Tinian and Rota schools could return to in-person classes as soon as next Monday
All Public School System schools in the CNMI will resume in-person classes on Jan. 3, 2022.
Also, at the discretion of the PSS Education commissioner, PSS schools on Tinian and Rota may reopen for in-person classes as soon as next Monday, Dec. 13, 2021.
The CNMI Board of Education came to these decisions unanimously during an emergency board meeting yesterday which only had one item on its agenda under “New Business”: “Remote Learning.” BOE member Antonio L. Borja made the motion for these decisions and it was seconded by BOE vice chair Herman M. Atalig.
The PSS leadership recently decided that PSS schools were to transition to and continue instruction online through the learning platform Blackboard Ultra from Dec. 6 to Dec. 23 in line with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ Dec. 5 directive that ordered the closure of non-essential government offices and put in place temporary restrictions for COVID-19 safety reasons effective Dec. 6 to Dec. 19.
During yesterday’s meeting, legal counsel Tiberius Mocanu, who spoke on the behalf of the BOE during the meeting, agreed with legal counsel Michael Ernest, who represented the acting Education commissioner during the meeting. Mocanu said that PSS leadership’s recent decision to transition to online learning in line with Torres’ Dec. 5 directive was within their ability.
“PSS was within its rights to act, as it has the ability to act on a day-to-day basis, and they made a decision based on the information that they received on Sunday evening. Even though the board had the directive that schools should be open, they are well within their rights [to take in] new information and act in the best interest of PSS,” said Mocanu.
During the board meeting, acting Education commissioner Dr. Rizalina M. Liwag spoke briefly on the impacts the recent turn of events has had on PSS and its capacity, and also cited recent student attendance numbers.
“This is a great time for us to really reflect…and our team management and our school leadership will come together so that we can really address these issues, concerns, and challenges. …From there, we can propose to the board what is the best approach so that we could accommodate students. …I hate to see students who are not learning, and we need to find ways as educators to assist them,” she said.
The board last met on Nov. 12 to discuss the resumption of in-person classes for all PSS schools, which was initially set for Nov. 15. The board on Nov. 12 voted unanimously to move the reopening date to Nov. 29.
PSS then announced on Nov. 28 that it opted to go with a staggered return to in-person classes based on schools’ COVID-19 screening/testing schedule. Yesterday’s decision now supersedes this.