Tiffany Glenne Afable || Photo by Shawn Elizarde ||
Nothing felt more delightful than learning that the remaining school days of March 2020 had been suspended. The tasks of the day pushed to be the burden of tomorrow, the exhausting schedule of classes, cleared.
But the rejoicing students could never have expected that their joyful vacation would suddenly turn into a tough school year of online classes.
For the School Year 2020-2021, schools, including the PSHS System’s 16 campuses, shifted into the unfamiliar space of online learning. Physical books were replaced by laptops, face-to-face interactions by virtual meetings.
Part of embracing this “new normal” was having to let go of yearly awaited EVC traditions. Forced to hold it online, this pandemic has robbed Batch 2023 of the chance to host a full-scale Sportsfest event. This setup has also taken away many of the freshmen’s first and seniors’ last experiences, as they bade their hellos and goodbyes over the internet.
However, the hurdles of the school year went far beyond missing the annually anticipated occasions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced educational institutions to deem traditional learning methods as unsuitable in this new setup. It has been a fast— extremely fast —unforeseen transition that has widened educational inequalities. In this so-called “new normal,” learners are required to have a computer and stable internet, a luxury not available to all. Though technology is a useful element in the academic field, access to it is a greater issue. Pivoting from the bustling environment of face-to-face classes to the declining attendance of students in online synchronous meetings, it is evident that the academic year has left many students behind.
The school year had also proven to be mentally taxing. Neither the unfamiliar routine of online synchronous classes nor the seemingly endless stream of deadlines were helpful in easing the growing anxiety within the students. This unforgiving cycle had everyone in dire straits. Most left meetings with barely any takeaway knowledge, as they pushed through the year no longer for the sake of learning, but for the fear of being left behind.
Just as it has been considered a new light for education, this academic system has also cast a shadow upon the people for whom its vision steers. There are gaps to close before this setup can be regarded as optimal for everyone. One can only pray that the upcoming school year will be no bigger whirlpool than the last.
Hopefully, we’ll all see each other again in face-to-face classes, and no longer through the sad distance over the screen. Until then, be proud of yourself for reaching this far, in whatever way and shape.