The Public School System has decided against providing meals to students during the class suspension period because they are treating the current situation as if there is already a COVID-19 case in the CNMI.
Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said the PSS Child Nutrition Program will suspend distribution of school meals to students to avoid putting students and others in danger.
“We decided to avoid that possibility. We are treating the situation as if it is already here. Everybody should be on lockdown at home and not going out to get their food,” he added.
He said the school principals and vice principals want the meal distribution suspended until they can come up with safety procedures.
“Distributing food at designated schools sites may gather people in large numbers and expose the students to health risks,” Ada said.
He is confident that the federal grantors will understand PSS’ decision. “I am confident that the federal programs will loosen their policies, considering the situation that we are in,” he added.
During a special board meeting with the Board of Education last Tuesday on Capital Hill, Ada proposed the suspension of meal distribution but board members did not agree.
According to BOE vice chair Herman Atalig and member Phillip Mendiola-Long, it is important that the meal distribution is done because many students, especially those on Tinian and Rota, depend on those meals.
Mendiola-Long added that with the current economic crisis that parents are facing, the food distribution would mitigate the stress on parents.
Ada said he and his team will revisit the idea to determine the best way to continue meal distribution for students without compromising the health of others.