It was more than a year since pandemic changed the world and put it into silence. It drastically shifted paradigms into rote teaching and learning. Despite many attempts to bend the sad truth by launching innovations, interventions and researches, the fact remains that this pandemic is continuously leading K to 12 Education in exacerbated challenges.
Vaccine is now at hand. The massive effort of the government to combat the virus is evident. According to former Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Manuel Dayrit when interviewed by Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) this March, the second year of pandemic in the Philippines will depend much on how well the government is handling the vaccination program. He optimistically projected an open economy if the program hits 70 million Filipinos at the end of the year.
With the rate of vaccination program delivery, expect a year or more to cover the target number of Filipinos to be fully vaccinated.
In the turn of events in the country, one of the major concerns is the education of almost 24,723,533 elementary and high school students in both public and private schools https://www.rappler.com plus the 4 million learners who did not enrol this school year. https://cnnphilippines.com
When school reopens after pandemic, what could be the best strategies to recover students after a global health crisis?
Challenges and transitions
Teachers who saw all the challenges as education shifted from face to face class to remote distance learning are very likely to encounter a vacuum or a space of nowhere. The question where to start becomes the priority in solving concerns. It would uncover challenges brought by the unprecedented transition from normal to new normal.
Much is expected from school administrators who would discharge programs when school reopens. It will be a test of obedience and consistency that will serve as oil for the engine. Decision-making will be crucial to move the challenges no matter how demanding it is.
The curriculum will also be the subject of pressure: whether to go back to pre-pandemic course or to adapt the new learning discovery that worked with them during pandemic.
Begin with the end in mind. This simply answers the question “Where to start?” after pandemic. According to Franklin Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to achieve one’s purpose, it should be driven by a clear vision of your desired direction. Clearly, the end in mind here are the students. With our students in mind, innovations, interventions and other programs will be possibly achievable.
But first we have to consider the hierarchy of needs of our students. As Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchy of Needs states, a person’s actions are motivated in order to achieve certain needs. In this theory, Maslow emphasized that the physiological needs must be met first and those are basic physical requirements including the need for food, water, sleep, and warmth. To support this psychological claim, the Department of Education (DepEd) adapts Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Act of the Philippines incorporating age-appropriate content pertaining to mental health into the curriculum at all educational levels both in public and private institutions. As such, psychosocial activities were integrated in the Minimum Learning Competencies (MELCs). This means that DepEd has been taking steps to make learning holistically plausible. As support to Maslow’s psychological assertion, feasible plans are vital to scaffold the needs of the students and achieve self-actualization.
In filling in gaps created by transition programs, establishing a school trauma center or team that would minimize culture shock would be a great option. In doing so, disadvantaged students need to be given more attention than the well-off ones because they were the ones mostly affected by the gap created by digital system of learning.
Creating a Child-friendly Environment
The physical readiness of the school contributes a lot in creating a child-friendly environment in children. For most parents, their child’s safety comes first. School must be prepared to address issues of security. All substantial aspects must be considered to intensify safety protocols like hand washing, practice of physical social distancing, wearing of masks, taking body temperature, cleaning and disinfecting and other health practices. Presence of nonteaching staff that would focus on safety standard will also complement this program. In addition to this, health equipment and facilities will reinforce a seriously intentional structure of security. Lastly, establishing a more responsive system to carry out this technique coupled with dedicated and hardworking workforce will surely bring success in creating a safe and secured school environment.
Modifying Class Schedule
There are many options to devise in planning a class schedule. Just like what the Civil Service Commission issued in CSC Memorandum Circular 10, 2020 otherwise known as Revised Interim Guidelines for Alternative Work Arrangements and Support Mechanisms for Workers in the Government During the Period of State of National Emergency Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, government agencies were given options to perform their duties to avoid health risks and assure continuity of service. Such policy can also be adapted to the school’s class schedule. District schools can modify which schedule would conform to the needs of its learners.
Closing the gaps
Catching up with learning gaps bent by pandemic is the most critical mission of DepEd. Contingency plan like the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BE LCP) is only during pandemic. Curriculum designs for post-pandemic however, should be at hand and ready for rollout. In such manner, teachers and administrators are geared up and ready to set their goals. They will not be caught off guard just as how MELCs implementation was.
Relational gaps were also created between teachers and knowledge providers or mostly the parents. Because parents were not ready to be home school teachers, psychological distress came into the picture. When parents are upset, unexpected things happen. There were reported cases, though informally, teachers were bullied or harassed by upset parents. Misunderstanding and the feeling of being miserable, as the case may be, trigger the parents (and teachers as well) to break out. After pandemic, this gap is hoped to be solved by both parties.
360˚ proactive turn
This pandemic will bring more changes to the education sector. Challenges will still be on track to walk in. Steps to recover the plummeting system of education in the country will be at the helm of the government. Certainly, it will also be in the hands of the educators. How we respond to the 360˚ turn of events in the educative process is our future. If we react proactively, we can achieve much. As Pema Chodron quoted, “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to learn.” We learned so much from this pandemic, so it’s time to let it go.