Since the COVID-19 Pandemic, teaching and learning continuity were transitioned into new normal education not long ago. The educational transition occurred not only in the Philippines, but all over the world. According to a UNESCO survey entitled Survey on National Education Responses to COVID-19 Closures, to which 142 nations responded, majority of the countries took various steps to provide remote learning: radio and television broadcasts were more common in low-income countries, while high-income countries supplied online learning platforms (UNESCO). However, more than a third of low and middle-income countries reported reaching fewer than half of primary school students. In contrast, the Philippines, led by DepEd, mandated the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BEL-COP) prior to implementing remote learning as the new normal. This plan was intended to ensure the safety of students, educators, and school personnel during the pandemic.
Through the Basic Learning Continuity Plan for the school year, Department of Education assured that self-learning modules would meet the needs of learners regardless of distance in the most convenient way. Aside from Self-Learning Modules (SLMs), DepEd dredges up the various learning styles of K-12 students by launching remote learning strategies, ensuring that no learners were left behind. DepEd made a difference in providing learners with learning continuity by utilizing distance learning modalities such as technology and internet connections.
Distance learners continued their education in remote settings via online or offline platforms such as TV and radio, as well as printed modules. Aside from the printed modality, DepEd also used the Blended Learning Modality, which combined any of the previously mentioned modalities to promote high-quality learning. Regardless of the current situation, different learning styles were catered to through these various learning modalities. Although (Llego, 2019) stated that distance learning was most viable for independent learners who were supported by periodic supervision of parents or guardians, dealing with learners who were not capable of independent learning would be a challenge. As a result, the DepEd launched a new modality which is modular distance learning modality. This learning modality lasts for two consecutive school years together with the synchronous classes for those students with stable internet connection.
However, as the COVID-19 number of cases declined, the progressive face to face classes in the Philippines started on January 17, 2022 as stated in the DepEd Order No. 017, s. 2022. It is in pursuance to the approval of the President of the progressive expansion of face-to-face (F2F) classes. DepEd, together with the Interagency Task Force for Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), issued guidelines for the opening of the classes to ensure that the minimum health protocols are still implemented to avoid contamination of the virus. Since the education sector is critical because it primarily impacts the growth and development of a country, the Department of Education opens the public schools for elementary, high school, and senior high school. The learners should be equipped with the most essential learning competencies that can help them to strive in their own ways.
Upon the reopening of the face to face classes, minor gaps from the modular distance learning have been observed not only by the teachers but also by the higher authorities. One observance was the reading skills of the learners which was essential in their learning. Therefore, during the Brigada Eskwela 2022, reading programs such as Brigada Pagbasa was facilitated by the school reading coordinators to ensure that all incoming learners ready for the school year. It was also a way to determine who among the enrollees were belong to frustration and instructional readers to have a one on one reading session with the designated grade level reading coordinator. During also the BE 2022, parents, guardians, stakeholders, learners, and local government units helped in putting up the safety of the learners upon the opening of classes. By the virtues of DepEd Order and IATF-EID guidelines, the implementation of face to face classes were resumed for the school year 2022-2023. In addition, almost all private school entities also opened their schools for the face-to-face classes in their own discretion and following the IATF-EID guidelines during their operation.
As the school year starts, learners were excited to be back at school, meeting their classmates from their virtual classes and also meeting their teachers physically. According to (Arias, Swinton & Anderson, 2018), it is noticed that there was unusually good attendance during the face-to-face classes compared to online classes. As an educator, it was seen regularly as the school year starts that the learners were delighted to be with their classmates after two school years of synchronous and asynchronous classes. During the face-to-face classes, the interpersonal relationship between the students and the teachers was also achieved which helps the teacher learn the challenges students experience in the different learning areas.
Disturbances were also limited in the face-to-face learning because the teachers or advisers of the learners were in the classrooms to facilitate. Unlike during virtual classes, where learners can be distracted by noise, glitch of internet connection, and power interruption. Thus, the advantages of face-to-face education reveal that the method was better than online learning and should be encouraged to improve learner’s performance and development (StudyCorgi, 2022). As an educator, we can say that face-to-face learning modality was the best upon teaching the concepts, theories of our lessons. It was also the best way to help the learners achieved their full potential inside and outside the classroom. In that way, we can also achieve our life-long goal which is to provide quality education for our learners.
Arias, J., Swinton, J. & Anderson, K. (2018). Online Vs. Face-to-Face: A Comparison of Student Outcomes with Random Assignment. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1193426.pdf
DepEd Order No. 17 (2022). Guidelines Guidelines on the Progressive Expansion of Face to Face Classes DO_s2022_017
Llego, M. (2019). DepEd Guidelines for the Remainder of School Year 2019-2020 in Light of COVID-19 Measures. https://www.teacherph.com/author/llego-xyz/page/53/
StudyCorgi (2022). A Phenomenological Study Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
UNESCO (2020). Survey on National Education Responses to COVID-19 Closures. https://tcg.uis.unesco.org/survey-education-covid-school-closures/