PSS back to Austerity Fridays

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Posted on Oct 08 2020

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In consideration of how much instructional hours students would lose, the Public School System restored its austerity days on Fridays instead of Mondays, soon after the Board of Education voted to maintain the current schedule for school year 2020-2021

According to a letter that Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada sent public schools, since Austerity Monday had already been observed this week, there will be classes on Friday and they will resume implementing Austerity Fridays on Oct. 16, and every Friday after that.

In a phone interview later with BOE chair Janice Tenorio and Ada, they pointed out there are a lot of holidays that fall on Mondays, which means that, in compliance with the government’s directive that if a holiday falls on an Austerity Monday, it will be observed on the following day, Tuesday, that means PSS will only be left with three instructional days—Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday— which also means that students will lose out on more instructional time.

Tenorio also stated that, after much consultation, they determined that Austerity Mondays wouldn’t work out for PSS, considering the loss of instructional learning time, holidays, the typhoon season that usually disrupts classes, and starting the school year late. That won’t happen as much by goes back to Austerity Fridays, Ada said.

Tenorio says the sudden change is not meant to confuse teachers but it was a “temporary fix” since a lot of families, teachers, and students were confused about what’s going on with the schedule.

Ada said the school year will start this Oct. 20 and will end around June. Approximately 90% of PSS schools have gone through inspection and have passed. The remaining 10% needs to be re-inspected by the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, PSS, and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s Environmental Health Disease Prevention.

“Schools have been very good following the COVID-19 things to do that must be in place before they open. They [schools] are also aware that, in the event of a random check and they are found not following the protocols, like the wearing of face mask, the school will be shut down,” said Ada., adding that schools are being treated like establishments where they should have arrows pointing where to go, hand sanitizers, temperature checks, masks, etc.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres earlier ordered the implementation of Austerity Mondays this fiscal year as a cost-cutting measure and to align the CNMI government’s operation with that of the federal government in Washington, D.C.

World Teacher Day

Ada and Tenorio also expressed their appreciation for teachers on World Teachers Day last Oct. 5.

Tenorio extended her appreciation not just for private/public teachers, but for parents who are homeschooling their kids. “With this pandemic and what we’re going through in the CNMI, you can say everyone is a teacher right now,” said Tenorio.

“I realized that it’s hard, but please don’t give up on the students because the community needs them. Embrace this change,” said Ada. “It’s not easy, but let’s just try to…enjoy the new way of teaching and learning.”

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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