2020: A Year in History – Hell Week

It started on what our students call “hell week”. Although the performance outputs in different subjects were held a couple of weeks ago, their other compliances must be submitted on that particular week. In addition, the final quarter exams are scheduled on that same week. Little did they know that it somehow feels similar to how we, the teachers feel. We were checking projects and other outputs, we have started encoding their scores to the e-class record or electronic class record, some of us were computing the learners’ grades, committees for the commencement exercises were holding brainstorming sessions and some have even started with the preparations. Little did we know that none of what we were doing even matters.http:

Although we have been hearing about CoVID-19 since February, the only time that we actually felt its impact was when the news of suspected CoVID-19 cases were quarantined in Old Buswang, one of the barangays in Kalibo, the capital of our province. This happened on March 13, 2020. I remember feeling so afraid for my son who goes to school in Old Buswang. I called him and told him to go home. However, he refused to go home because they have a scheduled debate that afternoon. I prayed hard that the local government would take action and God heard my prayers. By lunchtime, all the learners and teachers were sent home and classes were suspended.

We go to church every Sunday and on March 15, our pastor informed us that because of the situation, there won’t be a Sunday service, or any kind of gathering in the church after that day until further notice and when churches close, you will know that it is really serious.
On the 16th, the whole country, including our province, was placed under ECQ or Enhanced Community Quarantine. Only those who are 21 to 59 years old are allowed to go out and we have to wear a face mask. That was when stores ran out of face masks and alcohol. We were lucky that we were able to buy a big bottle of alcohol and my mother gave us a couple of masks since we have to go to the grocery store to buy supplies since there were talks of a lockdown for a long period of time.
Other laws implemented were social distancing and a few days after, quarantine passes were issued – 1 quarantine pass per household. The holder of the pass is the only one who is allowed to go out of the house. Public markets were barricaded so there is only one place for entrance and another one for the exit. Public transportation was suspended.

We were blessed because I teach in a public school. We still receive our monthly salary so we had enough for our needs. However, others weren’t as lucky especially those who get paid on a daily basis. A lot of businesses closed including the beach resorts and hotels in Boracay. Almost all of my students’ families were affected since tourism was our main industry here in Aklan.

The local government distributed some rice, canned goods, and multivitamins a total of four times from March to July. Of course, it wasn’t enough for a household with no regular income but it is definitely a lot better than getting none.

What saddened me the most was the number of suicide cases in our municipality alone. In one week, there were three reported and more cases were reported from the other parts of our province. One of the three cases in our municipality was my student in the previous school year. She was just 15. My heart breaks whenever I think about what she could have felt at that moment to make her think that taking her own life was the only way out.

After that, there were talks about how the community lockdown has taken its toll on the young ones. People have started to worry about mental health as well and I am so thankful that I was able to attend the Psychological First Aid training in our district. I learned a lot and I know that I will be able to use that for a great purpose. I echoed what was discussed in the training to my fellow teachers and even they expressed how they would love that kind of sessions at least once a month.

Looking back, I just realized how we were all wishing for a break from our busy lives. How we wish we had lighter workload. How we wish that we can just stay home and get enough rest even just for one day. Indeed, we need to be careful of what we wish for. One thing that I appreciate is how families grew closer and learned to appreciate what we were taking for granted before the pandemic – bonding with the family.

We may have a long way to go where this pandemic is concerned but we just need to have faith that God is in control. We just need to do our part, abide by the protocols, and pray.