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TURNING POINT: The Imperative of Classroom Classes

mindaviews adan

NAAWAN, Misamis oriental (MindaNews / 17 Nov) – Children, socially isolated for a long period may develop mental health issues and unlikely consequences. Suicide incidences among adolescents and youths during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdowns have been reported across the world.

A study that analyzed the reported incidents showed that the most common suicide causalities were related to mental sufferings such as depression, loneliness, psychological distress, and so forth, whereas either online schooling or overwhelming academic distress was placed as the second most suicide stressors.

Without disclosing it, not only teaching-learning enhancement but protecting the mental health of school children could be the reason why the Department of Education (DepEd) launched a pilot face-to-face classes, with Kindergarten to Grade 3 pupil-participants in 120 “low risk” sites across the country. This pilot project is a collaborative effort of the DepEd, the Department of Health (DOH), and Local Government Unit (LGU) in the site, to ensure logistic support, safety and protection of the participants from COVID-19.

It appears that the project is not totally face-to face but a hybrid schooling strategy because it employs modalities for distance learning – modules and online facilities.

The pilot run started on Monday, 15 November and ends on 31 January 2022.

Theoretically, a pilot project is a model demonstration of a scheme that is applicable for mass adoption.

DepEd’s pilot face-to-face project is supposed to be a trial run for regular in-school classes. But when can we say that the project is successful to warrant mass implementation?

In the first place, how would the project be evaluated?

What are its measures/indicators of success?

Evaluating the project along the feasibility of regular classroom instruction is very challenging because its implementation is hybrid. Moreover, there are health issues also to look into.

If, for mental health reason, minors and even little children are already allowed to go to malls, parks and other public places in pandemic Alert Level 2 areas, there is no reason why they should not be allowed to go back to school.

What better way to uphold and secure the mental health of the young than for them to see their classmates again, to make new friends and learn together in the safety of a school environment.

For consistency of policy affecting the same group of individuals, there is no need to wait for the outcome of the convoluted pilot project. A back-to-school policy across grade levels may now be imperative. This may yet accelerate the recovery of the pandemic-ravaged economy.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)

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