EDITORIAL - The quandary of face-to-face classes

EDITORIAL - The quandary of face-to-face classes

(The Freeman) - November 29, 2020 - 12:00am

There is now a call from several lawmakers for the government to allow the resumption of face-to-face classes in areas with low COVID-19 risks.

One of them, Senator Imee Marcos, went as far as to question why the government was prioritizing leisure travel as well as non-essential activities like gambling over making face-to-face classes possible again.

"I will confess my bafflement and fury several days ago when the cockpits were officially opened and allowed to operate. Has gambling now become an essential activity to Filipinos and education a frivolous luxury?" she is quoted as saying in a report.

It is not a simple decision to make.

Let’s say we do push through with face-to-face learning again.

On the one hand, there is more and more evidence showing that students are having a hard time learning with online instruction. That system is plagued with problems like poor internet connection, poor communication skills, lack of devices, among others.

The method involving modules also has its share of challenges. Many have been found to contain errors and these cannot always be submitted on time due to different circumstances.

Even as detractors point to our low standing in recent international reading, science, and math tests, they see learning improving in an environment where the teacher and the student are in the same room.

On the other hand, we are also wary that face-to-face classes bring with it the risk of COVID-19 infection. We cannot expect children to be as careful or meticulous as adults are when it comes to observing quarantine safety protocols. Besides, being close to other students, as well as full-contact playing, is part of a child’s learning experience.

We again caution that many areas around the world that normalized economic and social activities after they thought they had beaten the virus, or thought they had little virus risk, again saw the number of infections rise.

Having face-to-face classes will certainly have its advantages, but it will also come with its risks.

Let’s hope that those who have to make the final decision take all the factors into consideration.

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