Editor’s Note: This story is part of the “Game Plan” series that Saipan Tribune is publishing this week. It is intended to give a look into the CNMI’s game plan in terms of reopening the CNMI and restarting its economy.
Both the Northern Marianas College and the Public School System are considering reopening campuses and resuming classes later in the year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and gubernatorial directives that are in place.
NMC interim president Frankie Eliptico said that the game plan is a phased reopening of the NMC campuses on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota in the fall semester, emphasizing that student and employee safety are key priorities,
The fall semester normally begins in August, but Eliptico stated that the exact date of reopening of NMC offices and continuation of face-to-face classes is still being evaluated. A big component of instructional activities may remain online in the fall semester, Eliptico added.
“No definite date has been identified for the reopening of campus, but it will likely occur in phases, depending on information we learn over the next few weeks,” he said.
Eliptico said the college will continue to be guided by the Governor’s COVID-19 directives and other health advisories to determine what is in the interest of students’ and employees’ safety and welfare.
Currently, the college’s summer semester has already been planned to be entirely online to maximize the effectiveness of social distancing guidelines. The summer semester is from June to July.
The Public School System is looking at resuming classes around December, much later than usual which is around August and September.
With the uncertainty of how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last, PSS has discussed three possible game plans for the next school year. Plan A involves delaying the opening of the school year. Plan B, which is dependent on PSS receiving a budget of at least $19 million, would be four-day school weeks, half-days, and five-hour pays for teachers, merging schools, and shifting as many courses online as possible. Plan C, which is dependent on PSS receiving a $36-million to $40-million budget, is opening schools on time and following last school year’s schedule.
Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said the ultimate goal is to continue providing public education in the CNMI. He assured that the PSS administration continues to brainstorm ways to move forward in light of the impact COVID-19 has had on the CNMI.