PSS having trouble getting nurses

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Posted on Aug 06 2020

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The Public School System is currently going through a difficult time rounding up nurses who will keep an eye on the health of students, teachers, and support staff while they are in school.

The idea is to have part-time nurses at each school who can help PSS monitor the wellbeing of everyone amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The problem is that it appears easier said than done. “We tried hard to recruit nurses,” said Tim Thornburgh, PSS’ federal programs manager at a recent Board of Education meeting.

Thornburgh said that there was a private firm that initially showed an interest in providing PSS with nurses but it backed out at the last minute.

PSS had allocated $550,000 in order to pay 22 nurses part-time for 10 months. The funding came from the Education Stabilization Fund that PSS received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security, or CARES, Act. Should no nurses get hired, Thornburgh said that the money will be reprogrammed. Additionally, PSS got $510,858 for school sanitation and $20,400 to buy 255 thermometer wands.

Last June 21, Thornburgh said that PSS is looking into hiring retired nurses who would work part-time in every campus to manage thermal scanning for both students and staff.

Thornburgh added that PSS will also work on purchasing thermal cameras. “They will be using these thermal cameras, the same thing we see at the airports. It gives a thermal image and it also gives your temperature. That’s what we’re looking at, and we’re looking at getting 32 of them,” he said.

With the start of the school year eyed this September, PSS has set aside funding from the CARES Act to help low-income families apply for home internet by covering a portion of their internet bill. “Both of our connectivity providers, Docomo Pacific and IT&E, have a low-income program where they provide a connectivity device for like $60 a month. We’re trying to help families with low income, so we’d cover $40 but the families would still cover $20 a month. We’re estimating that the number of families [that will be assisted] are most certainly around 4,000,” Thornburgh said.

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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