Abstract. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted numerous studies on students’ challenges; however, relatively little attention has been given to their coping mechanisms. This study qualitatively compared the adaptive strategies employed by students from public and private institutions during Online Distance, Blended, and Face-to-Face Learning. Grounded on Kolb’s Learning Style Theory, this phenomenological research examined the various coping mechanisms utilized by Grade 10 students from public and private schools in the Philippines who were selected using convenience and snowball sampling methods. Data were analyzed following Colaizzi’s method, providing a rigorous framework for interpreting the findings. Results revealed that private school students encountered significant academic difficulties due to isolation, relying primarily on self-driven coping strategies. In contrast, public school students faced challenges related to workload and socioeconomic factors, turning to hobbies, family, and peer support to manage their stresses. These findings highlighted the distinct differences in how students from various educational settings cope with pressures brought on by the pandemic. Future studies are strongly recommended to encompass broader parameters, extend over longer periods, and include more mature subjects to capture a broader range of experiences with different learning modalities. A comprehensive approach would provide deeper insights into students’ coping mechanisms and adaptive strategies across educational contexts. This study underscores the importance of understanding the diverse coping mechanisms employed by students. It highlights the need for supportive measures tailored to students’ unique challenges in different educational settings. Addressing these needs is crucial in developing effective strategies to support students' well-being and academic success in the face of ongoing and future educational disruptions.

Keywords: Blended Learning; Coping mechanisms; Educational Institutions; Full Face-to-Face Classes; Online Classes.