The DepEd has announced that, as per guidelines that will be released by the Inter-Agency Task Force, private schools may start earlier than August 24 provided they are ready for online classes.

For most of us, August 24 seems too late. I personally feel it is quite late but June or early July, might be, on the other hand, too early.

While some of our schools were able to continue the 2019-20 School Year using the Remote Learning Center mode, we have to admit that it was a quick response to the Enhanced Community Quarantine. We were “forced” to do something to let learning continue in the context of keeping our students and ourselves safe from COVID-19. And we are glad that we experienced a measure of success as we closed the school year.

But the next school year is an entirely different story. We are not forced into a sudden change of circumstances. We know, more or less, what is in front of us. Therefore, we can plan ahead. And planning will probably show us that between now and June is too soon to be ready to deliver our services.

Please look into the following considerations before finalizing your school calendar.

First, we need to revisit our philosophy of education. We are not getting into remote delivery simply to go on operating our schools. Our philosophy – the learning process in the School of Tomorrow® system – must guide us in navigating the use of technology and other avenues in delivering our educational program. We must remain individualized and self-paced in dealing with our students. This applies as well to how we do our non-PACE subjects.

Second, we need to look back at the Remote Learning we implemented. It was good. But we know that there is much fine tuning to be done. We need to address what we did well and what went wrong so that we can set a more stable foundation and plan for the next school year. The Procedures Manual is crystal clear on how the Learning Center is to be managed. But a remote setting has unique features since we are supervising students via technology. While we already know this, we were made more aware that each home is different. Some are very conducive to learning. Others are not. So, we need to maintain a “personal” touch. 

Third, we need to identify what needs to be improved in our remote delivery. We are blessed with an educational system that easily transitions into different settings. A school-based Learning Center will definitely have its advantages. But when physical school closure is inevitable, learning can continue with the SOT® system. We are not improving on the system but on the delivery of the system. The IT platform will not dictate the system but we determine which platform is best to maximize Learning Center procedures in the remote mode. Technically, we are not using an “online” mode because our students do not study online. They still work in their PACEs and are remotely supervised. So, be careful in using the word “online” but rather use the term “remote.” And please be reminded that the Remote Learning mode is temporary. Once students are allowed to return to school physically, then we will transition back to our Learning Centers.

Lastly, we need to prepare Learning Center staff, parents, and students in the effective delivery of the Remote Learning Center.

  • We will be training the staff in the use of technology and platforms for remote supervising. This takes time.
  • For those handling non-PACE subjects, the staff needs to be trained in doing “online” lessons. This takes time.
  • Preparing the IT infrastructure to support remote supervision must be set in place. This takes time.
  • We must prepare our parents and guardians to assist in the Remote Learning Center. This takes time.
  • We must give our students a thorough orientation on attending classes from home – reminding them that they are not doing “homework” but school work at home. This takes time.
  • This means preparing everyone intellectually, emotionally, psychologically, and physically. This takes time.

All preparation takes time. So, please take the time to prepare well for the 2020-21 school year. Do not rush into it just to discover that you are not properly prepared.

So, is June too early?  You must prayerfully decide.

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” – Luke 14:28-30