With the assumption that the Public School System will still resume hybrid face-to-face classes come October, Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force chair Warren Villagomez said that inspections are still ongoing for all three islands—Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
With the ongoing issues with face-to-face class resumption, Board of Education vice chair Herman Atalig expressed concerns at the BOE meeting last Sept. 11, that the only thing stopping PSS from opening up fully are safety measures.
A common classroom setting will permit approximately 30 desks without the 6 feet distance, however, with the 6 feet distance, Atalig says that PSS will only accommodate 10 desks. He added that particularly, the 6 feet distance is the only thing that’s stopping them from reopening schools fully. Wearing a mask and washing hands, though, are doable.
Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said there are two things that they are basing the face-to-face resumptions on the principal’s decision and a vaccine. Adding that, he understands that the community vulnerability is at 1%, however, they want to be mindful of people who are asymptomatic.
The governor’s executive orders will allow schools to open, however, Ada added that PSS did a survey with all principals in where they would make a decision if they feel safe to open. Ada confirmed that most didn’t feel too safe with the reopening of face-to-face until a vaccine is presented.
Ada said he feels it’s better to be safe than sorry, but assured that when they open and come across someone who has tested positive but is asymptomatic, PSS has a plan but could not disclose since it is still in the works.
BOE member Philip Mendiola-Long suggests that PSS administration should propose a plan to present to BOE because it sounds like the reopening of face-to-face resumption is based on feelings and not actual data.
“So I just want to be crystal clear…when BOE members go back and explain it to teachers or to parents on why we’re doing what we’re doing,” said Mendiola-Long. Adding that he’d appreciate a written statement on how and when PSS will open and why they remain closed.
With students/parents going through the difficulties of having to get used to the current online platforms, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said, on radio news briefing last Sept. 18, advised that they reach out to teachers, principals, staff and let them know about their difficulties.
By making your concerns known, Torres encourages asking for other/additional resources so that learning at home, though it may be hard, will be bearable. Additionally, Torres says that it is an obligation that students are given proper education.
Torres says that his children are also having a hard time transitioning to online platforms but puts in more effort. “I encourage everyone, all the students that we do need to put more effort into it, and also be able to adjust the way we do learning but reach out to your teacher and that will be my biggest advice,” said Torres. (Justine Nauta)