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Editorial | Wait for the vaccine

To say that the COVID-19 pandemic has succeeded to shake our views to the core, is an understatement. While it is primarily a health crisis, all human endeavors are so affected that people across the world, whether from rich or poor countries, accept that we are facing a new normal. The year 2020 ushered new paradigms, new ways of doing things, and even greater challenges.

The pronouncement of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte late Monday evening on the resumption of classes only after the government can ensure schoolchildren’s safety with the development of a vaccine, was met with both acceptance and resistance by the people. The president made a tough choice not to open classes this school year until the safety of schoolchildren will be assured, referring to the availability of a vaccine to combat the virus.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier announced the opening of classes on August 24, saying that “face-to-face classes may be conducted only in areas allowed to open physically.” The Secretary assuage fears of parents on the transmission should the school children return to school as guidelines set by the Department of Health and the Inter- Agency Task Force will be strictly implemented. The DepEd’s position was not palatable to parents who cannot afford online learning or the hybrid learning system that is proposed.

This is a very divisive issue. It has gone to the basic premise: save lives or sustain the economy. This pandemic is forcing us to learn technology overnight. Many parents feel they are unable to cope for many reasons: they do not have the skills to help their young children navigate the new learning system, they do not have computers and they are not linked to a wifi. This put to stark relief the divide between the haves and the have nots.

Where is our education system headed? We wonder how our children will cope as we trudge through these uncertain times.

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