Disruption of education can be leveraged.
Through a series of public consultations held during the first two weeks of June, the Philippine Science High School System (PSHSS) informed stakeholders that its 16 campuses will implement distance education and blended learning under the “new normal” resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If there is an existing community quarantine, students will do distance learning through the PSHS Online Learning Management System (LMS) where all the materials will be made available for both online and offline modes,” said Lilia T. Habacon PSHSS executive director.
Students through synchronous learning will be online for 15 minutes per week per subject in order to assess their progress.
Parents were told of their significant role in monitoring their children’s progress during the distance learning period.
PSHS campus directors and division chiefs said that students who do not have internet connection or laptop will also be given printed copies of the learning guides.
Moreover, the PSHS System is currently planning on talking with Smart or Globe for better internet connection during distance learning and campuses will lend out tablets or laptops to students without gadgets to pursue their education.
“If local governments will allow resumption of physical classes, campuses will be using blended learning with a four-week cycle in which the school population will be divided in two or three batches,” Habacon said.
The first half (or a third) will be reporting to school while the other half (or two thirds) is on distance learning. Reporting to school is not limited to face-to-face meeting. Class session at school will be up to 20 students per class.
The four-week cycle-is with the assumption that community quarantine has been lifted or local risk grading allows it.
PSHS campuses also clarified that a four-week cycle will be adopted in order that only 50% of the students will be going to school and the challenge of dorm capacity will also be answered. This is apart from the needed social distancing required by the “new normal”.
Health and safety in school
Attendees to the public consultations raised fear over possible COVID-19 transmission in campus and at dormitories when blended learning happens because students are coming from different places (CVC).
PSHS assured that all school facilities and public areas within the school premises shall be thoroughly disinfected before and after use, and in-between “learning shifts”.
Safety and health protocols in all campuses following the directives of the Department of Health will be observed in all campuses.
Floor markers to maintain social distancing shall be placed in every classroom and other places of gathering. In some places, plastic dividers on tables/ seats shall be placed for greater safety and precaution.
Requiring the use of face masks and observing proper hygiene and washing of hands shall be strictly implemented within the school premises.
As part of the preparations for the blended learning, parents suggested to include exhaust vent, HEPA filter, supply of soap in comfort rooms, handwashing areas, running water and opening of windows of classrooms instead of using air conditions.
Cashless purchases in canteens are being planned so that students will not have to hold money and bringing of packed food to prevent transmission of virus.
Focus on academics
PSHS will use a curriculum with shorter coverage and focusing on essential learning competencies aligned with college readiness standards (CRS) set by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Curricular and co-curricular activities and programs such as science fairs, alternative learning activities (ALA), educational camps and other mass gatherings are cancelled.
Science Immersion Program (SIP) or student internship will be postponed until next school year.
Only core and specialization subjects will be offered.
Parents expressed their appreciation for the PSHS bridging program as it will fill in the gap brought about by shortened school year because of the national enhanced community quarantine that started last March 17.
Completers of the bridging program will be given a certificate of completion.
While the bridging program is not a graded program, its completion is highly suggested to the students for them not to have a hard time as they move toward the next grade level.
The delivery of this program is purely distance learning, and there will be no face-to-face until such time that the government allows it.
Parents requested for a possibility to continue with distance learning even if community quarantine is already lifted in order to ensure utmost safety of the students.
In case parents would not enroll their children, they can file for their children’s leave of absence (LOA) which is subject to Board of Trustees (BOT) approval.
(Aries N. Oliveros, Executive Assistant)