Acting Education commissioner Eric Magofna said they have reached out to parents to remind bus riding students to adhere to COVID-19 protocols at bus stops, where the Public School System has no assigned staff.
Speaking at a recent House of Representatives Committee on Education meeting, Magofna said they make sure that the teachers inform the students about protocols and they’re also reaching out to their Parent Teacher Student Associations to help inform parents because PSS has no staff assigned at bus stops to enforce the three W’s or the health protocols. Three W’s refers to wash your hands, watch your distance, and wear a face covering.
“So we really would like to work with our partners, most especially the parents, to make sure to educate their children that when they go to the bus stop, remember the social distancing, remember to wear your mask,” he said.
PSS made a presentation to provide the House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Leila C. Staffler (D-Saipan), with updates on the planned resumption of in-person classes at PSS.
Schools will now be reopening based on their screening/testing schedule, and schools that are not scheduled for yesterday, Nov. 29, will continue with remote online learning until their scheduled testing date.
Magofna said hopefully all students would follow their advice, but then when they go on the bus all the protocols are going to be adhered too.
It was Rep. Sheila J. Babauta (D-Saipan) who raised questions pertaining to the students who will be availing of bus services. Babauta asked what role does PSS play to ensure that the students at bus stops are abiding by the guidelines.
The lawmaker said she totally agrees with the fact that students are safe in schools where the guidelines are implemented. “How far does that extend to the bus services?” she asked.
While the buses are sanitized, that’s not the case with bus stops, Babauta said.
“Who’s responsible for the bus stops? I know that this comes up often in our discussions. But you know that’s really where our students begin to congregate, right before heading to school,” she said.
Babauta pointed out that she believes that anyone regardless of age will need constant reminding about the guidelines. However, she said, at the end of the day, discussion needs to be done on bus stop responsibilities.
Staffler, who is a former teacher, said that, from her experience, until the child gets into the bus itself, that’s when that student becomes the responsibility of PSS.
“Because that’s when PSS’ responsibility begins. That was always what we learned in our training,” Staffler said.
She agreed with Magofna about the need for community partners and parents to follow their children to the bus stop to help with the enforcement there.
Babauta said she believes that just for future conversation around the bus stop responsibilities, they welcome all partners because she does not think that everyone understands that role—that where PSS responsibilities begin and end in regards to the bus riders.