Face-to-face (F2F) classes at the Napo Elementary School (NES) here started Monday inside its newly painted buildings that pretty much looked the same as in previous school years, except for the colorful makeshift cubicles now installed in each student’s tables that are meant to protect them from the coronavirus disease 2019.
The mini cubicles, made of wood and plastic, made sure students will be separated from one another throughout the three- to four-hour class.
A group of mothers waited for their children outside the NES as they were barred entry from the school grounds due to a F2F policy by the Department of Education (DepEd) that allows only school staff and students inside the school premises.
To ease their boredom, some mothers spent their time chatting with other parents outside the school gates, while one particular mother found time to have her nails polished. Eunice Vacalares, a mother of a kindergarten, said her five-year-old child was one of those chosen to attend the F2F class.
Vacalares said she was glad that in-person classes have been approved in their area because she was more confident that her child can learn in a much more conducive space, unlike the self-modular mode and the difficulties that came with it.
“Misugot rako nga mag face-to-face classes na kay para makasulay pud akong anak og eskwela nga moadto gyud sa eskwelahan (I agreed to the F2F classes for my child to also experience how it is like to go to school),” she said.
Parents, despite having completed vaccination, were only allowed up to the school entrance where their children are fetched by teachers and escorted to their rooms.
Grade 1 teacher Anna Marie Dingding said holding F2F classes presented its own challenges.
“Dili nako sila magakos, dili nako ma-kiss like before kay gusto pud nako unta ma feel nila nga dili lang ko nila teacher but mama pud (I cannot even hug and kiss them as I want the children to feel that I am not only their teacher but mother in school as well),” Dingding said.
She added that another challenging part in her class was how she would hesitate to come near her students asking for her help as physical distancing still has to be maintained.
“I want to distance myself from them but how can they learn if I am not hands-on with them. It would be better that I approach them than they ask their classmates as I might be held accountable if something happens to them later,” Dingding said.
Meanwhile, at the Marcela T. Mabanta National High School (MTMNHS) in Barangay Libertad, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, Grade 12 student Jelou Credo arrived an hour before her 8 a.m. class.
She said it has been a year since she last wore her uniform.
“I am happy that I can see my classmates again. At the same time, I have worries that I might bring the virus home. I just prayed before I left home,” Credo said in the vernacular.
Sheigred Espina, the division supervisor in Kauswagan, said out of more than 400 enrolled, only 24 were chosen to attend the F2F classes, with 12 each in Grades 11 and 12.
Angelito Barazona, the education supervisor in Lanao del Norte, said six schools in the province were selected as pilot schools for the F2F classes.
The participation of students in F2F classes was voluntary and had the signed consent from parents.
The DepEd national office has earlier approved the conduct of F2F classes in 59 schools nationwide as part of the easing up for Covid-19 2019 restrictions in areas with minimal risk.
The NES and MTMNHS are two of the six schools allowed to conduct limited in-person classes in the province.
The other four schools are the Dalama Central School in Baroy town; the Babalaya Elementary School in Bacolod; Masibay Integrated School in Nunungan; and the Tambacon Integrated School in Magsaysay. (PNA)