When we prepare for short and long-term plans at our school, we likewise attempt to plan for other possible disruptions i.e. typhoons, unexpected holidays, etc. However, not once did planning for a pandemic ever cross our minds. In January, when the media began to share the havoc that COVID-19 was causing including the growing number of lives it was taking, we anticipated further possibilities of its devastation. We took proper and careful precautions in terms of keeping not only our faculty, staff and students safe and healthy but also our school parents. Clearly, we came short in our prediction as to how it would affect our school. We were two weeks out from completing the school year when the news of Community Quarantine (CQ) came in light of the pandemic. All schools had to close for business which meant that not only were students prohibited from entering the school premises but also, our faculty and staff had to stop working on campus.
In a short time, everything had to change. We had to quickly adapt to the strange and frightening circumstances in our midst. Change is seldom easy for anyone, but it is especially hard when it affects more people like it did with the school. Left to our own devices, adapting to such an unprecedented occurrence, would have been near impossible. How would we have changed, designed, implemented our curriculum had it been conventional? It would have been near impossible to do so efficiently in a short time.
Let me be transparent by saying that when we dismissed our students and implemented the Remote Learning Center Education (RLCE) during our Community Quarantine period, we, as a school had a tough time not because the system is lacking but because of external factors that were beyond our control. These factors were first, lack of connectivity i.e. cellphone reception and internet access. Although our town is one of the port of entries in Bohol, several of our parents and students are located in remote areas that have less to no connectivity. Second factor is, the CQ necessitated shelter in place and a travel ban unless a quarantine pass was presented and only for essentials. Securing the latter in and of itself was problematic as the CQ guidelines changed on nearly daily. When travelling, there were checkpoints from one barangay to the next making the experience incredibly troublesome.
Presented with those factors, it was challenging to communicate and keep up with our students and parents. In spite of those challenges, however, our students were able to complete their work. I am filled with gratitude for the School of Tomorrow®, or ACE®. I have been a long-time believer in the system but not only have these uncertain times truly cemented my confidence in it but also, it has made me even prouder to be utilizing this curriculum to educate our children. Not only has it proven itself effective within the offices of our school but also, it has stood its ground and essentially exceeded expectations in its delivery and implementation for the RLCE. School may have closed but our students’ learning never stopped. Due in fact to its excellent design and training, it made for our students’ transition from working at school to working at home a bit smoother while making our school parents’ tasks at home more manageable.
The RLCE has afforded us the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming school year. It has enabled us to see the factors which need more attention and come up with practical solutions that will not only make our tasks easier but also, make it personalized and more user-friendly for our students and parents. In spite of our plans and due to the new normal, the next and possibly, coming school years will be drastically different and rather intimidating. As Christian educators, we take comfort not only in the School of Tomorrow®, or ACE® but most of all and especially in God’s plans because we know that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:38 KJV). That promise gives us the confidence in our responsibilities as educators to ensure our students continue to learn effectively and grow in the Lord.
Rachel Mar M. Carbonilla
Icthus Christian Academy Inc.