Education after lockdown

By Dr. Rex Casiple

Many people are inquiring about the status of our educational system in the country after COVID-19 lockdown. Some said we will be gradually returning to normal. While others said we will be going to the new normal until otherwise a vaccine for COVID-19 is found.

A study based in China’s outbreak suggested that the coronavirus lockdown across the globe should not be fully lifted until a vaccine is available.

In Europe, no nation plans to ease their restrictions in the coming days. However, in Denmark, kindergartens and schools will be reopened if coronavirus cases remain stable.

But life there will still look far from normal. Many restrictions will remain in place. A ban on gatherings of more than 10 people has been extended until May 10 and all church services, cinemas and shopping centers will also remain closed. All festivals and large gatherings will still be banned until August. And Denmark’s borders will remain shut.

Austria is implementing a step-by-step approach. From May 1, all shops, shopping centers and hairdressers will open. Restaurants and hotels will open gradually from mid-May. This will happen under strict security conditions as the danger from the coronavirus is not yet over. The government will decide at the end of April whether to extend home-schooling beyond the middle of May and no major events will be held until the end of June.

Switzerland considers relaxing restrictions later this month other measures if the virus is kept in check. This includes border controls, school closures and bans on gatherings.

As these countries and others move to keep their economies alive, while protecting public health, many pitfalls lie ahead. Precaution is always a must. The World Health Organization (WHO) stressed that our thinking of coming to an end point in fighting against the virus would be dangerous thing to do. Hence, any shift in our response strategy, relaxing of lockdown status or physical distancing measures requires very careful consideration.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how our students in schools around the world are educated. It is considered as the catalyst of our educational institutions for search of innovative teaching approaches in a short period of time. Innovations were introduced to do away with traditional way of education inside the classroom using other alternative modes, such as, ‘on-line’ learning at home, television broadcasts, and video instructions.

These approaches have led millions of students into temporary ‘home-schooling’ situations, especially in some of the most affected countries, like China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. Hence these changes prompted new examples of educational innovations adapted by other countries in the world.

Unless a vaccine is found, COVID-19 will affect the system of education around the world. It could have a lasting impact to our educational system. In line with this, the curriculum development of the various programs will also be affected. Skills in decision making, creative problem solving and adaptability to the present situation, among others; and the kind of teaching approach will be added to our priorities.

In the Philippines, higher education institutions (HEIs) continue to exercise their judgment in the deployment of available flexible learning and other alternative modes of delivery in lieu of in-campus learning if they have the resources to do so. Appropriate alternative learning platforms may be utilized, such as, electronic and non-electronic learning methods, modules, self-directed learning activities, simulations, case-based scenarios, among others.

In the preparation for the return of classes, HEIs should adopt measures to safeguard the health and safety of their returning students, faculty and staff through various mechanisms, especially those coming from COVID-19 positive areas, and ensure that they get appropriate health care if they are ill. In today’s world crisis caused by COVID-19, health is our topmost priority.