Face to face interactions have been the norm rather than the exception especially during pre-pandemic times. They have been staples not only in school settings but also in workplace and workshop settings. Meeting and interacting with our colleagues and friends provide us with the warmth, camaraderie, and company that we all desire, unless there are a few of us who happen to be totally independent and introverted. Another plus side of face to face interactions is that we get to activate our senses fully by getting to see, feel, and even shake hands or hug the people we are with, mostly when we are all jubilant over victories won together.
Today, however, almost everything is being done virtually. Although we see people live, they are merely moving pictures and thus we cannot even describe how smooth their skin is, how good they smell, and how soothing their voice is in real life. Such are the limitations of virtual interactions for we get only close to the real thing and not the real thing itself.
Face to face classes are now gradually being implemented, albeit in the tertiary education and technical-vocational education levels, with Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson J. Prospero de Vera III and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) the persons being responsible for these. Yes, Virginia, such is totally understandable since the students from these levels are adults whose resistance to illnesses is steely. Holding face to face classes for minors, vaccinated or unvaccinated, of school age is another story altogether.
Just recently, the Department of Education has declared that face to face classes will commence this coming August, or barely two months from today. Such a declaration came as a surprise to me as well as to others who are quite aghast over possible worst-case scenarios involving widespread infection among children and adults.
I am quite apprehensive over outgoing DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones’ declaration, which should cause alarm in the first place. Many are surely shaking their heads in disbelief and are squirming out of revulsion over the good secretary’s intention to restore school populations to pre-pandemic levels and to conduct classes just like before, to the extent of making classrooms packed like train cars full of prisoners on their way to Auschwitz or Buchenwald.
Are we ready for face to face classes at this time?
Frankly, though measures have been put into place, we cannot consider ourselves totally ready for face-to-face classes as far as immediate implementation is concerned. These are the reasons why:
- Not all learners (and, possibly, teachers) have been vaccinated yet. This is possible for there are non-adherents to vaccination against COVID-19. Truth be told, I know of some people who do not believe in vaccination and I can never blame them.
- There are still some parents who are apprehensive about letting their children attend face to face classes. I am certain of this and such shows of reticence and uncertainty among parents. What our learners’ parents are feeling are actually valid and warrant further attention.
- The fact that masks are to be worn is surely an ordeal for children and others. I do not mean to be ornery here, but wearing masks for prolonged periods makes pulmonary people like me suffocated. It also deprives one of oxygen, my God!
- Many have not been oriented yet on the face to face setup. Secretary Briones and Chairperson de Vera, many are still left in the dark, and I am talking about the general public. Please expedite your efforts to inform our learners, teachers, and other stakeholders of the current setup. Sacre bleu, mon dieu!
- Teachers and other staffs are having a great deal of difficulty in terms of juggling responsibilities. This applies most particularly to our teachers in the basic education levels. They teach and yet are also expected to do so much in terms of physical arrangements.
I am a firm believer in the face-to-face arrangement but I suggest that it be done so as a hybrid arrangement. In such a manner, there would be days in which some students go onsite and others go online in alternate weeks (or days, if you can manage to do so without losing track of whom are to be onsite or online).
Come August, we have to brace ourselves for the gradual return of face-to-face classes! However, we must do so with deliberate care and conscientiousness and with a high regard for public safety!
GUESS WHAT, GUESS WHO!
GUESS WHAT: Mercilessness towards his/her students is what separates this graduate school professor from his/her peers who are more compassionate, considerate, and collaborative. As told to me by my source, who is a current doctoral student, the professor in question gave an INC (incomplete) to more than half of his/her students. The reason was that the persnickety and impossible pedagogue gave a quite difficult task to his/her students, seemingly setting them up for failure. The students who were not given a grade have been harboring grudges against their professor, who is also known for shaming his/her students.
What are the lessons of the story? Never ever give your students tasks that make them cry. Be considerate so that you would be respected. Never set your students up for failure. Be a compassionate realist, not a hardcore sadist.
GUESS WHO: Who is this scion of a major business clan who is notorious for surreptitiously clamoring for kickbacks? My source who used to work for the family, the scion was asked by the patriarch/matriarch to sell a huge parcel of land. What the parsimonious yet crafty scion did was to jack up the price of the property by millions of pesos, without the knowledge of his/her other family members. Once the deal was done, our subject wrote in the receipt the actual amount (without the great markup, of course) and pretended to be the financially loyal person s/he is publicly known for. As a result, our subject is himself/herself richer due to his/her financial machinations.
What are the lessons of the story? Never ruin your family’s trust even in secret. Work hard, smartly, and honestly. Never be more opportunistic than a predatory crocodile or lion. Time will come when your riches will dissipate faster than cigarette smoke.
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