The Northern Marianas College is looking at possibly requiring over 1,000 of its returning students to get tested before physical classes resume for the fall semester.
According to NMC interim president Frankie Eliptico, NMC is looking at possibly requiring over 1,000 NMC students who will be returning in the fall to get tested but the plan is still being developed.
“We have contacted and are in discussion with [COVID-19 Task Force] chair Warren Villagomez…as well as other members to see what we can do to have, like, an NMC day for testing, similar to what the Public School System has been discussing for their employees and their students. So we have, again, about 150 employees and about 1,300 students. We wanted to see if we can have a day or a couple days or a few days,” he said.
“That’s something that’s still developing. There are some issues that are surrounding that but our employees [will be] required, but we will be making that announcement with regard to students later this summer,” Eliptico added.
Over 90% of NMC employees who are returning from three months of teleworking as a result of COVID-19 have already gotten tested since NMC has required them to undergo the test. “The employees are returning so one of the guidelines that we provided employees before coming back to campus, after they were teleworking for the past three months, is having to go through the testing. So most of our employees—I believe about 90% of those who are coming back to campus—have already been tested through the community testing activities that were provided by the governor’s office and the COVID-19 Task Force at the airport,” he said.
For the upcoming fall semester, Eliptico said that NMC is leaning toward a hybrid approach; this would mix physical classes with virtual classes.
“The hybrid approach is [to] look at which classes can be successfully offered online, and the quality of by which we can maintain through entirely online, so our default is to have it online. But if there are components of the class, for example if there’s a lab component, whether it’s a science class or it’s another class that involves some sort of hands-on or face-to-face requirement, that will be accommodated in person,” Eliptico said.
As much as possible, he said, NMC wants to avoid as much face-to-face interaction as possible for safety purposes. “When we do have those in-person elements, we will be…maximizing space between students. Again, we want to avoid having those face-to-face interactions if they’re not entirely necessary. So for those classes that can be successfully offered throughout the whole semester online, we will do that, but there are some classes that…need that in-person element, and those classes will then have components of the semester in person. We are looking at it class-by-class, so it’s not like all classes will be half online and half in person. We’re looking at each class to make sure that we are maintaining the quality of the instruction, as well as the engagement of the students throughout the whole semester,” Eliptico said.