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Back to school

I don’t know how other families are doing these days, but mine is still not ready to go back to face-to-face school which supposedly reopens in a few days.

First of all, we were told that it is going to start on a hybrid system but according to pronouncements of the Department of Education, all schools in the land are supposed to be back to F2F after less than 3 months. So, what is happening is that we are preparing and spending for a hybrid start of the school year that may turn out to be a massive overspend by the time F2F returns after less than 90 days.

My beef with this double-system is the cost of acquiring the necessary devices for my learners who will need to be equipped for the 90-days of glorious hybridness. This is because over the past 2 years of staying at home, our devices were geared towards staying at home. This meant a desktop PC for the boy and a 10+ year-old laptop that needs to be constantly plugged in for the girl. Now that they have to go to a hybrid way of school, my understanding is that our current lineup of devices are no longer applicable and it looks like we have to get them either new laptops or tablets so they can continue their hybrid modality of education.

This would be fine if the hybridness were going to be a thing, but now it looks like the devices will be absolutely necessary for only 90 days and suddenly become optional thereafter. While yes, a dedicated mobile device might our kids with their education and would probably be something most responsible and loving grade-conscious parents should invest in, knowing that this could have been an avoidable expense is the part that hurts the budget of families. This is a problem we don’t need at this point, while dealing with the after effects of the pandemic and the looming current cost of living crisis.

The plugged in 10+ year-old hand me down laptop our daughter has been using over the past two years died over the summer break, so we are going to have to get her a unit. A desktop would’ve been cheaper and more powerful, but the hybrid setup that is about to start in a few days won’t allow that, so we are now shopping for a laptop. The current debate running through my head these past few weeks is if, for the same money, is a brand new budget laptop is better than a 2nd hand mid-end or business level laptop?

Aside from the need to score devices for our learners, the impending F2F regime will also make parents have to deal with the cost and logistics of transportation, which has not been a concern over the past two years and is now a major one during these days when fuel prices are at an atrocious high.

We have seen how the public transportation system still sucks in Metro Manila, even without the influx of millions of students, so those of us in the provinces can maybe breathe a sigh of relief that the situation isn’t as bad here, but based on our experience with school openings and school days, the problem of getting our kids to and from their F2F school campus every day is going to be a significant one for most families. However, if you look at the bright side, school uniforms are no longer required, so if that floats your boat, that’s at least something we can look forward to I guess.

Nobody seems to be ready for this school year. Parents, students, school administrators, and even the DepEd all seem to be wandering around with this glazed look in their eyes, not knowing what to expect when the school bells start ringing on the first day of school. We all know that it will be face-to-face by November, but other than that, the details are as hazy as our history books have become in recent years.

All we can do at this point is prepare. That’s probably ok for those who can afford to splurge on devices that might turn out to be redundant or unnecessary in a couple of months. For those who cannot, hopefully the uncertainty can help delay unnecessary expenses and give them time to fudge while the education sector settles on a workable plan for whatever the new normal will bring.*

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