By Karyl Dequito
The end of every normal school year for us used to be about carefree few months, sunny skies, and sandy beaches. As a student too once, it is hard to deny that every beginning of the academic year also cultivates exciting expectations. But the COVID-19 pandemic changed the scenario into something far different from what we have in our heyday.
Too bad our kids today grow a little older robbed of the excitement of owning new school supplies, fitting uniforms, and packing their baons. There are no new friends, new peers, or new teachers to meet and annoy. But like they used to say, life must go on that despite the odds we carry on.
So now, the schools are starting to roll out enrolment forms once again. This is another school year to endure without much physical struggle, but with lots of financial and mental burdens. I am saying this from the viewpoint of a parent who is about to get launched out of normal work routine and household chores. It will no sooner be about arguments, cramming schedules, and a crying pupil to boot once more.
We still have not gotten over our dilemma of the past “new normal” school year just yet. The hype over starting classes is nowhere as we are still reeling from the unproductive few months that we had for the sake of our children’s education.
If we really have to look at the bright side of things, the pandemic has done us much favor. No more hectic mornings, quick breakfasts, or enduring the rain and contending commutes. We are forced to take things one at a time, cultivating some new degree of normalcy with our young learners.
Yet, we all drafted a different plan that does not always coincide with circumstances. The pandemic has changed the routine quite drastically. As I sat by the comfort of my home office, doing graveyard shifts for what I was supposed to have finished during the day, I began to ponder on the lives of other parents.
Some of us need the day to earn a meager stipend for daily wherewithal. Other parents have regular jobs but may not still afford the convenience of hiring a learning facilitator. There are the single parents who used to leave their children in schools for work but cannot anymore. There are families with more than one student to mind the entire school year.
Many other parents can find only a few hours to sit with their children, more so with figuring out baffling school lessons. There are the teachers who have their own learners at home too. But they are now hand-tied to their job for the greater good.
I have gone beyond wondering about why we need to push through with an undercooked plan in academe. What I am wondering is if the program is successful so we are heading towards another school year without hesitation. Because basically, the band-aid solution to education during the pandemic is a parent-based predicament for us with younger pupils. And to be perfectly honest, the workload seems impractical and useless in the squeezed timeframe. Especially for us parents coming from different fields of expertise and varying job descriptions.
Still, we are hopeful that the rush in school opening means the Department of Education instituted a more viable and reliable learning condition. Maybe this time, the state also factored out and considered the Filipino family’s livelihood and way of living.
We hope that the teachers and students are still on their sound minds to embark on a new school year because we parents seem to have partly lost ours. But we are raising today the children who will serve this nation tomorrow when our sinews cannot anymore bear the strength of this world. This thought is what gives us the reprieve to get going. (Photos by Ferdinand Macalisang)/WDJ