PSS looks into implementing distance education

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Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said he and his team are working to come up with the most equitable way to implement distance education in light of the COVID-19 situation in the CNMI.

According to Ada, PSS is looking at transitioning to distance education for the remainder of the school year but that is still in the works.

“Distance education right now is not going to be implemented. All online course we will be putting together will not be implemented yet because it has to work for all learners. Packets seem to be the most equitable for all learners but it’s still not 100% equitable because some students need that one-on-one interaction with teachers, so we’re still trying to figure out another way. For right now, for all learners we will do just the packets,” he said.

During a special Board of Education meeting last Tuesday, BOE members instructed Ada to look further into what could be done in terms of transitioning into online learning for the rest of the school year.

“Because some of our students need accommodation. …We have to make sure we can provide that technologically. There will still be human contact but, again, we’re not sure. If we don’t accommodate these services, we’re violating the…law,” he said.

Aside from the idea of distributing educational packets for the week, Ada said he is looking to work with IT&E and Docomo Pacific to request help in providing internet for the student population that don’t have access to internet.

“We are a system, everyone matters. Special Education, honors, at-risk population, everybody is involved, even the average learner. The way I’m looking at this is either everyone’s needs are being addressed, or nothing. The other idea is to contact IT&E and Docomo, which I will be meeting with them, to talk about offering WiFi to students who don’t have. We have to first figure out a contract with IT&E…just for the remaining three months just so they can participate,” he said.

Ada said that PSS is looking at shouldering the cost of providing WiFi services for over 1,000 students for the remaining three months of the school year.

“We’re going to ask them first what they can offer and then we’re going to meet them halfway. …All we know is that over 1,000 students are receiving special services,” he said.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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