For the longest time, I believed we will have our old lives back. The quarantine will be over and all these restrictions will be lifted. I refused to believe a new way of life will emerge. As months passed, I realized this is far from over. News of the new strain of COVID 19 also ruined our optimism. Everything will happen in a gradual phase.

In my own environment, I thought online classes would be temporary. We will eventually return to the traditional face-to-face classes after one semester. Turns out, the entire academic sector does not see this happening in the next two to three years. And since we were forced to utilize online classes, the future of education might eventually adopt the hybrid system. Kids may no longer report to school everyday in the future. 

The current education system is not perfect, but I believe it still has advantages. For instance, kids hindered by physical disabilities and health related issues, can already cope with the demands of regular schooling. Students from far flung provinces can avail of education in other regions. Taking graduate studies abroad may no longer require physically moving and living to another country. The integration of online classes will definitely change the landscape of education. But at this stage, I think only a few schools are exploring opportunities. Most are still addressing the economic impacts of having a few enrollees, while maintaining the salaries of the teachers. 

The usual clamor of parents and students are the expensive tuition and miscellaneous fees, even if they don't utilize the school's facilities. Unfortunately, expenses for a school operating in an online or blended approach do not lessen. As mentioned, teachers have to be paid with the same salary rate. The platform used for online classes are not free, whether its Google Classroom, Blackboard, Canvas, or Microsoft Teams. Additional IT related expenses are needed to protect the school from any form of cyber related attacks. The school's facilities have to be maintained, even if not utilized. Taxes have to be paid. Like any other business, schools have to deliver under limited funds. 

As mentioned in my previous posts, I acknowledge the sentiments of the parents and students. I'm one with them in ensuring continuous learning. I'm likewise beyond grateful for families, who made all means to enroll their children.

Meanwhile on the lighter side of life, I was suppose to finish some work over the holiday break. But sleep overpowered. I feel somehow regretful of the time I wasted. I'm back to work on Monday and my deadlines are screaming. 

On New Year's Eve, I ordered Asian food for the family. I prioritized the neighborhood and small scale restaurants in my hometown. It's my way of helping SMEs within my hometown. I intend to continue this practice for 2021. The business sector in my hometown has become another casualty. A few days before Christmas, I noticed that more decade old businesses ceased operations. My reliable hair salon attempted to operate after the ECQ. Unfortunately, earnings are not enough to support its employees. The seamstress, who regularly fix my office uniform, closed her shop for good. Our trusted jewelry and watch repair shop were likewise, not spared. Our favorite hardware store closed their shop and had the space leased for a highly franchised food chain. But what broke my heart is the closure of Marikina's Shoe Gallery. It's a one stop shop that showcases all the Marikina produced shoes. It felt like my hometown lost its own identity. 

A few weeks before Christmas, I thought of rewarding myself. I avoided shopping malls but not online shopping. :p For the first time, I bought something from the 11-11 and 12-12 sale. My splurge has to be the Philips Iron Steamer, which I also use to clean mattresses, pillows, curtains and bags. I retired my yellow chair, even though it matches everything in my room. I bought a comfortable office chair to address my backache. Other things I purchased included make up from Happy Skin. I still needed it for my online classes and meetings. :p Though admittedly, I think 2020 is the year where I spent most for online shopping, food deliveries and more importantly, those expensive Grab rides. 

If there's anything I can wish for 2021, it has to be good health for everyone in the family. Having a stable job, accomplishing my responsibilities, being able to set aside for savings and discovering opportunities and new endeavors.