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Safety is the Main Priority

Coronavirus disease or most commonly known as COVID-19 has been quite a controversial topic today and will remain so. Our ways of living have drastically changed and people are still trying to get used to the "new normal" that this virus has brought upon us. COVID-19 does not spare anyone and has vastly affected the majority, mainly the socio-economic aspect of our country. According to the World Health Organization (2020), "Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment." The number of COVID-19 cases is very alarming and this could still increase if leaders would fail to do something to "flatten the curve." Considering the Philippines' state when it comes to healthcare system, it does not look good. For a country of almost 109 million, it only has 89,000 hospital beds and only 1,000 intensive care units (ICUs). Even with this information, Commission on Higher Education still plans to open and start classes this August amidst the pandemic. While we cannot deny the importance of education, both the teachers and students' safety should be the number one priority, thus schools should not proceed with opening classes or at least delay it until a vaccine is released to the general public.
 
The opening of classes this August should be canceled due to the fact that it is not safe for both teachers and students. Even to this day, there is still no available vaccine that has completed clinical trials. Scientists and researchers have been working on potential treatments and vaccines but according to the WHO, there are only six candidate vaccines for COVID-19 and it may take from one year to a year and a half for any of them to become available to the public. According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire (2020), "The Philippines will be part of a January 2021 clinical trial to be conducted by the makers of a vaccine…" Meeting face-to-face for classes would only heighten the risk of spreading the virus, not only inside school premises but also at home and places that they visited or traveled to. Thus, it is important to go out only if necessary and stay at home as much as possible to reduce the risk of transmission. In South Korea, schools had to be closed a few days after they have just opened because of coronavirus spike.

 	Another aspect to consider is that not all parents have the means to send their children back to school. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III from DOLE said that at least 2.6 million people have already temporarily lost their jobs due to closures and flexible working arrangements. 71, 700 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are also affected by this pandemic. Although the government has allocated funds to those who are severely affected, not all were able to receive them and that money would not last for a long time. Many families are struggling right now to even keep food on their tables; what more when students need to go back to school? If a student gets infected, parents would have to prepare a huge sum of money for treatment and not all could afford to get hospitalization. While I was scrolling through Facebook, something caught my attention, a quote that said "People say we're in the same boat in this pandemic. We're not, we're in the same ocean but not in the same boat." And in this ocean, there are even some without boats and they are drowning. 

 	Lastly, if online classes would be the alternative, it would not be on par with the effectivity of face-to-face classes. Also, not all students have the means to proceed with online classes since not all of them have stable connections in their homes. Some students would even have to pay for load in order for them to pass their requirements to school, which translates to them going out, endangering themselves. Some courses would delve into the interaction between students and teachers more. Let's take nursing as an example. In the course of BSN, students need to interact with their clinical instructors for their return demonstrations. How could student nurses be able to learn the proper procedure without teachers guiding them in person? In a study made by Gruendemann B.J., participants confirmed that face-to-face learning continues to be valued as a strong methodology in nursing education. She stated, "Increased understanding of the meaning and essence of face-to-face learning is essential as we decide how nursing content will be taught." Not to invalidate online classes but if students were taught online, there is a possibility of students lacking with their interpersonal skills, with their memory and learning development, and with motivation to study. According to Carter J. (2020), "Online learning limits the ability for a student to receive instant help and ask questions. Most online classes are tailored to the majority of the student body rather than individual people…" In this case, while there is a pandemic going on, the cons outweigh the pros in regards to online learning.

As Malcolm X has said, "Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today." But what would happen to our future if the students cannot continue learning because they are sick? Therefore, prioritizing the health and safety of students should be the number one priority of CHED before anything else. There is no vaccine yet so it is obvious that the virus is still spreading like wildfire to the people. Many parents have also lost their job because of this pandemic that they could not afford to send their child back to school. Online classes being an alternative is not an effective solution for all students since it is not workable for all and some don't have means to participate in such. COVID-19 is not a force to be reckoned with and our lives are not a joking matter. The next best thing to do is to promote safety between the lives of teachers and students and hopefully, CHED will look into the situation and provide better arrangements for both teachers and students alike.

Comments

1 Comments
  • Kristine Mae Angeles
    Aug 12, 2020 15:09
    Thanks for inspiring! Promoting also my story entitled "Turn every weakness into greatness." We can also exchange views by viewing all my other stories and I'll do the same with you. Let's support each other!
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