The past four months of repairs were only protective measures and that more permanent repairs have yet to begin for Public School System campuses affected by Super Typhoon Yutu last October.
Education Commissioner Glenn Muña emphasized this in an interview last Tuesday, noting that the process of getting majority of PSS campuses back to their full-day operations has been hastened by the help of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but the permanent repairs are just starting.
“We are still a long way to recovery,” Muña said when asked about the progress of PSS’ recovery from Super Typhoon Yutu. He did concede that, “compared to how we were four months ago, we are able to open up many of our schools.”
He said that PSS set target dates for the resumption of classes and those target dates did raise some eyebrows on whether or not PSS can make that happen.
He credits the teams at PSS—”who were willing to give anything and everything they had to get the students back to school”—to meet those target dates.
While PSS campuses are already mostly on full-day schedules, four campuses still operate on half-day sessions and even though majority of PSS schools are back to operation, he noted that the repairs done over the past four months were only the bare minimum to get classes moving.
“The things we are doing right now are called protective measures—to prevent further damage that have already been done by the typhoon. We are already at the inner walls and the tiles [of Oleai Elementary School]—but those are just temporary repairs,” he said.
“Once we get our project worksheets approved by FEMA, that is when we start the permanent repairs. Our Facility Development and Management staff are still working with FEMA in wrapping up our inspections,” he said, adding that it should be done by now since the Hopwood campus was saved as the last for inspection.
“We were able to accomplish a lot within the past four months, thanks to FEMA and the USACE being here, along with the support of the Governor’s Office and the CNMI Legislature,” Muña said, adding that the U.S. Department of the Interior assisted PSS with a grant.