The first day of school usually means campuses that are crowded with children showing off their new stuff but this was nowhere in sight as the new school year started yesterday in the middle of a global pandemic.
With classes being mostly done online and with hardly any students on campus, the Public School System still kicked off its school year with Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada inspecting campuses to ensure that schools will pass muster when inspected by Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and will be ready when students are finally allowed back on campus.
According to Ada, PSS went ahead and opened yesterday since schools were prepared and were expected to open on Sept 8, with a total of approximately 564 teachers, including staff from Head Start to high school.
Ada visited the Marianas High School, Hopwood Middle School (both the old location and the temporary campus), Oleai Elementary School, Garapan Elementary School, Koblerville Elementary School, Francisco Mendiola Sablan Middle School.
Ada added that all school principals have been compliant with the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force’s guidance in hopes to be approved to open their door to their students come October. “All the principals hold that as a guiding force because no principal wants to have a denied opening notice. They want to be compliant, and they want to be able to open,” said Ada.
Ten years ago, Ada said knew that technology will come and take over the classroom. “That future is here now,” he added. Though it may have come unexpectedly, leaving many unprepared mentally and/or physically, teachers, staff, students, etc. must accept the “new norm,” and be able to get comfortable moving forward Ada said, adding that COVID-19 has pushed not only the CNMI but the whole world to be “technology driven.”
Ada assured that more than half of PSS’ teachers are “tech-savvy,” meaning that they are familiar with the use of technology. He said that PSS divided all their staff into three groups: the “experts,” the ones with more experience; the moderate ones who are familiar with technology but need more guidance; and those who aren’t familiar with technology yet. He advised principals to pair up those who are old-school with those who are tech-savvy in order for the ones who aren’t familiar with technology to learn to be comfortable with transitioning online.
Marianas High School’s first week will consist of calling students and families to ensure that they have internet access and a device that can access what they need for the school year. MHS vice principal Melanie Rdiall says that 1,200 students have successfully registered this school year.