“Changes make you unable to go back to what you’re used to,” a quote worth noting as President Rodrigo Duterte approved the resumption of limited face-to-face classes in areas reckoned to be “low-risk” for COVID-19. But should we really take prospects such as “low-risk” for the safety of the children? Are we even ready for its consequences?

“Ako naniniwala na kung ating itutuloy itong pilot study, kailangan we ensure na whoever – the teachers, the staff, the officials – will deal with the children will be vaccinated. ‘Yan din ang personal na paningin ko (I believe that if we are to pursue this pilot study, we must ensure that whoever – the teachers, the staff, the officials – will deal with the children will be vaccinated. That’s my personal stand),” DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said in a news report.

Considering the apparent situation of the country, the continuation of classes has ostensibly more risks than rewards. In hindsight, it’s easy to say that letting the vaccine do its work in places with already low-risk of COVID-19 would be the right decision to breathe new life into the face-to-face classes. But we keep forgetting two things: the virus can still be carried even if you’re not infected and there are still people who refuse to take the vaccine. These two reasons alone could bring the whole country back to square one.

We are stuck in a situation in which the resolution made was too late and was too early at the same time. The students are just settling in the new learning system and are trying to establish a new mindset to keep up with the “new normal” that was ingrained into their minds that made them believe that this is going to last for a very long time. That said, suddenly switching to face-to-face classes would only put the efforts of students adjusting to the new learning system in vain. Not only that, shifting abruptly without proper planning might take away their drive like the switch to online learning did to some.

Something like the resumption of face-to-face classes is only secondary to the thing we should be focusing on the most, that is, providing those aspiring students with the learning resources they need to catch up as we double-down on this “new normal” because not only are we losing lives in this pandemic, we are also losing talented minds.

This column piece was written from the perspective of my son, a 16-year-old junior high school student.

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