Jan. 3: PSS to return to in-person classes

BOE chair: Schools are safest place in entire CNMI
Posted on Dec 30 2021


All secondary schools of the CNMI Public School System with 70% of its eligible students vaccinated against COVID-19 will return to full in-person classes on Jan. 3, 2022.

This was learned during a CNMI Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, with BOE chair Andrew L. Orsini and Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred B. Ada both assuring that PSS has the safety measures and protocols in place to ensure a safe return to full in-person classes.

Early into the meeting, Orsini addressed the concerns some parents are having with sending their children back to school for full in-person classes. Orsini reiterated that community spread of COVID-19 did not originate in PSS schools and assured that PSS has safety protocols to maintain the safety of all students, whether or not they are vaccinated.

“As chairman of this board, I want to reiterate to all the parents out there that, as far as having your child come to school—whether vaccinated or not—schools are the safest place right now in the entire Commonwealth,” said Orsini. “I can assure you that the virus itself in any way [was] not borne in the schools; it’s coming from outside [into the schools]. Rest assured to everybody that the schools are complying with the protocols in place.”

Dr. Yvonne R. Pangelinan, who is senior director of Student and Support Services for PSS, said that there will be several “layers of protection” in place to keep students safe come Jan. 3.

On top of observing the “3 W’s” (wash your hands, wear a face mask, watch your distance), PSS will also be promoting opportunities to get vaccinated through school-based vaccinations and conducting quarterly COVID-19 antigen testing.

Additional measures include classroom modifications such as placing barriers, placing visual signs that indicate proper distances for social distancing, improving ventilation and installing UV filters on air conditioning units. Pangelinan added that schools will be restricting access to certain campus areas to minimize interactions between on-campus students and staff and campus visitors.

Later into the meeting, Ada said he recently requested all PSS school principals to procure weekly cleanings for their campuses two to three times a week. Ada assured that PSS has ample funding to support sanitation requests.

Ada said he empathizes with PSS’ stakeholders who have been longing for a return to full in-person classes. For those who remain hesitant about going to class on Jan. 3, Ada said he and PSS aim to work with them to alleviate their concerns.

“I too really want to open schools [for full] face-to-face. Whatever you’re feeling, I feel it, the teachers feel it, the students feel it, the whole community feels it. We do have a small portion of students and parents that don’t want to [go to school come Jan. 3] because of fear of the pandemic, and we understand, and we’re going to work with [them],” he said.

Joshua Santos | Reporter
Joshua Santos is a Mount Carmel School AlumKnight and University of Florida Gator Grad with a passion for writing. He is one of Saipan Tribune’s newest reporters. Josh enjoys golf, chess, and playing video games with friends in his spare time. Reach out to him @rarebasedjosh on all socials.

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