by: Rodel R. Danganan
School Principal II
Sta. Rita Elementary School
SDO Annex- Cabiao
SDO Nueva Ecija
Our day-to-day life is already a part of history not only in the Philippines but around the globe. Taking a glance at the things that happened a year ago around the world could be considered as a global nightmare. Humankind experienced a great battle over an unseen enemy the attack struck little by little until it became a dilemma a pandemic that is continuously spreading amidst taking a lot of precautionary to stop it. For the past year, months, and days most of the countries around the world lived with fear, anxiety, and grief due to loss of lives caused by the pandemic. Different sectors of the economy were forced to shut down which caused unemployment to many of our fellow Filipinos.
This scenario causes an increase in poverty all over the country and even in most parts of the world. A lot of people depend on the support coming from the local government unit of every town and barrio. But will this be enough to feed to the hungry stomach of a family with three or more members? The reason why some were forced to hover the streets and begged for alms without minding the vulnerability of their lives which even at a snap of his/her fingers will be taken away if inflicted by the so-called Corona Virus (COVID 19). The dilemma affected not only the economic aspect of life but the educational sector as well. Public and private schools have no choice but to close temporarily to ensure the safety of the learners and the teachers as well. But this did not last long simply because the value of education is very crucial in the lives of each one of us most especially to the youngsters who were just beginning to chase their dreams. Pliant like the bamboo we need to bend and be flexible to any circumstances that might come our way. Filipinos are known to be exuberant people simply because we still find to smile despite all the adversities in our lives.
This Filipino trait became the source of strength to conquer the unseen enemy known as COVID 19. The different sectors of the economy devised ways and means to be able to open up again and continue their operation. The educational sector as well after taking into different surveys on what learning modality will be used both in the private and public school began to plan strategically taking into consideration all the result of the surveys that they have conducted to open up again and cater to the needs of the learners. This is now the “NEW NORMAL” brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). After a lot of lockdowns, the country now is embracing the new normal same with the educational sector.
Public schools around the country offered a blended learning modality to the learners. Blended learning is an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods. The opening of classes started as the country embraced the new normal. The Department of Education issued Memorandum OUCI-2020-307 released on October 30, 2020, the memorandum is issued in response to the request of the teacher and student groups to ease the components of distance learning implementation. The measures suggested are expected to enable the learners and learning facilitators to navigate through the challenges of the new normal in the teaching and learning process and make necessary adjustments throughout the school year. With this Department of Education Division of Nueva Ecija sails as well in the sea known as the “New Normal” by providing education amidst the pandemic. The division thoroughly scrutinized every angle of the situation on how to educate the learners at the present situation taking into consideration the safety of each one.
DepEd Nueva Ecija even before the Kick-Off Brigada 2020-2021 started made an overview on how to educate the learners as well as the parents to help prevent the spread of the virus. The different schools around the division were tasked to come up with an infographic that will show the different ways on how to alleviate the spread of the virus the said infographic will be used as signage to be posted in the façade of their respective schools to foster awareness in the community. Before the school year begins a lot of preparations were made by each school to prepare for the opening of classes. The schools headed by their respective school heads after studying thoroughly the safety protocols mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force put up the different health protocols within the school. Sanitizing materials such as foot baths, alcohols, and hand sanitizers were provided to be used. As the school year, 2020-2021 began through the modular learning modality still each school was tasked to educate the learners as well as the parents on what is Corona Virus 2019 and how to prevent it. Educational videos about different health practices were sent to the respective group chats of the learners. The different safety protocols were observed during the distribution and retrieval of the Self-Learning Modules. Hence, there are still obstacles brought by the new normal. The plight of the new normal is not easy a lot of challenges arise as time goes by. Feeding the minds of these learners with modules, video lessons, online classes, lessons aired via televisions and radios are not enough to feed the minds of these young learners. The pandemic caused hunger to some families due to unemployment. How can you feed the brain with an empty stomach? How can you instill learning to a child who had nothing to eat to be able to sustain the nutrients needed by the brain to process the information needed to be learned?
The division carries on the program of the department known as School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP) in nurturing healthy learners has been one of the priorities of the Department ever since. With the current health situation, the division carry on the program of the department by providing milk packs, breads, cereals, and hygiene kits to the learners who need assistance. The division also tapped the different local government units of each barangay to facilitate the distribution of the said goods to the learners if the need arises. A child with enough nourishment will learn well. Nourishment of the body is needed as well.
This “NEW NORMAL” brought by the COVID 19 will last for a long time, hopefully with lessen anxiety. Let us put in our minds that “Hope can be a powerful force, especially in difficult times. Today, the world is facing the coronavirus crisis, a pandemic that has changed life for millions of people. In times like these, hope can be a powerful source of reassurance. Many who are locked at home, others who are working to help and prevent the virus, also need the reassurance and the hope that “we shall overcome this.” #DM