Our current situation reminds me of the time when Noah and his companions were about to end their “quarantine” inside the ark. They did not immediately jump out but surveyed the land by sending forth a raven and a dove. With no results, they extended a week. Then another week. They waited until it was safe to leave the ark.
Don’t get me wrong. We will not try to make a pattern out of Noah’s days and weeks. However, the act of sending the birds to search for dry land is what we want to focus on. That was planning. Forecasting. A preparation to return to a “new normal.”
This pandemic forced some kind of a “pause” button into our normal routines. Some of us implemented the Remote Learning Center Education but the normal course of life as we knew it is still generally at a halt. But we need to forecast. We need to strategize. And while we are mostly on a wait-and-see mode, we cannot stop planning.
We posted an article on wrapping up the school year. That has to be done in order to launch a strategy for the next school year – and if needed, bring into motion a transition between the academic years.
In a meeting with the Department of Education last April 23, a major discussion was the “Learning Continuity Plan for the New Normal,” which refers to the use and implementation of modified in-school and modified out-school modes of learning. Private schools will be allowed to use flexible modes of delivery. Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio of Curriculum and Instruction said, “We will no longer rely on traditional face-to-face mode.”
This is an opportune time for School of Tomorrow® to shine because we have everything that is needed for the “new normal.” Because it has always been our normal for more than four decades. We have the materials and the procedures in place.
The question now is: HOW DO WE PLAN FOR THE COMING SCHOOL YEAR?
Here are a few practical suggestions:
- Make sure you end the current school year properly. If you have not read our post, “Wrapping Up the School Year 2019-2020,” please read it.
- Set a date for the beginning of your next school year. There is something tricky here. When the DepEd speaks of school opening in August – or the Inter-Agency Task Force recommendation of September – they refer to the face-to-face return of students and teachers to the classroom. The proposal, and we need to pray for this, is to allow schools who are ready for online or remote delivery to start earlier. As of now, R.A. 7977 Section 3 is still the guide for private schools – classes may not start before the first Monday of June and not later than the last day of August.
Whether you start the school earlier than August or in September, be prepared to offer the Remote Learning Center for the first months or the first quarter. Parents will not risk sending their children to school if there is no assurance that the COVID19 is under control. This is the reason we expect a rise in demand for homeschooling or an alternative delivery mode like our Remote Learning Center setup.
Set a date for general registration or enlistment. This has to be intentional. While your school can have an ongoing enrollment during the entire school break, a general registration schedule (like a week) will give you a number of possible enrollees.
- Promote your school as a provider of the Remote Learning Center Education (RLCE). Point of clarification: Schools offer the RLCE only during times of extended closure of schools. This is not to be offered as an alternative option to an actual school setting. In other words, you cannot have some on RLCE and others going to school. Extend the RLCE for everyone as needed because of the pandemic.
This is a privilege given to schools using the SOT® system. We also want to emphasize that this is not homeschooling. Please read the post, “Remote Learning Center and Homeschooling: The Differences.”
- Make a financial plan. First and foremost, pray for provisions. We acknowledge that God is the provider of all our needs. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).
Second, pray for wisdom on how to steward the ministry entrusted to us by managing our resources. Part of this is getting our parents to continually support our educational ministries and tapping resources. We are in a different financial situation because of the pandemic. Some schools were not able to collect the final installments from the parents.
And if the next school year should open in August or September, where will our schools get the money to pay salaries and bills from May to July or August?
There are government agencies that can possibly offer assistance with teachers’ and employees’ salaries like the SSS and Pag-Ibig Funds. Hopefully, private school teachers will be included in the government’s amelioration benefits. But while these may be channels of provisions, be careful in dealing with other government agencies that could get you entangled in their control. Remember, do not let anything move your dependence away from God.
Over and above these suggestions, seek God as a school community – from the administration, to the staff, the parents, and the students. Though we look at practical steps, nothing will take the place of seeking the mind of God. And this can only happen when we pray as one.