PSS returns to in-person classes

Cohorts for middle schools until Jan. 10
Posted on Jan 03 2022


Bolstered by the CNMI’s 94% vaccination rate and relying on the assurance of health professionals, the CNMI Public School System will be going back to school today, with elementary schools and high schools returning to full in-person learning, while middle schools will be on a cohort schedule until Jan. 10.

According to the announcement published Jan. 1, elementary schools will be open for full in-person learning. On Mondays, these schools will be open from 7:30am to 11:30am. From Tuesday to Friday, these schools will be open from 7:30am to 2pm. An exception is made for Kagman Elementary School, which PSS said “will remain with [a] double session schedule for kinder[garten].”

Middle schools will be on a cohort schedule (small groups) until Jan. 10. On Mondays, middle schools will be open from 8am to 11:45am, and from Tuesday to Friday will be open from 8am to 2:45pm. An exception is made for Hopwood Middle School, which “will remain with [a] double session schedule.”

High schools will be open for full in-person learning. On Mondays, high schools will be open from 8:30am to 12:30pm. From Tuesday to Friday, these schools will be open from 8:30am to 3:15pm.

The official announcement can be found on the CNMI PSS Facebook page. PSS also asks students and parents to refer directly to their respective schools for detailed bell schedules.

The return to full in-person classes was made during a Board of Education meeting last Dec. 28, during which Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred B. Ada said that PSS’ health professionals and PSS’ partners at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. agree that the CNMI’s high vaccination rate ensures a safe return to full in-person classes for PSS’ secondary and elementary school students.

“Our health professionals have confirmed that the overall CNMI full vaccination rate of 92% makes it safe for PSS to transition back to full in-person learning for secondary and elementary schools depending on vaccination rate. This has been concurred by our [CHCC] partners. With that said, all PSS elementary, middle, and high schools are ready to welcome back students with a high standard of safety and care,” said Ada.

He said that elementary schools will continue with full in-person learning as scheduled prior to Oct. 29 and the Early Intervention program will continue providing virtual services to students and families. For Early Head Start/ Head Start on Rota and Tinian, full in-person operations will continue as usual. Early Head Start/ Head Start on Saipan will be offering home-based and center-based services for families until further notice.

As for gauging hesitancy by students and parents to attending classes in-person come Jan. 3, Ada said that PSS does not have these numbers yet, but the hope is for this data to be collected by the end of this week. Once PSS has these findings, Ada said PSS will work closely with hesitant students and parents to assure them that adequate safety measures are in place in PSS schools.

“We do have those cases of students and parents who don’t want to come to campus for safety reasons. However, we [don’t know those numbers yet], and [the] school teams will be putting those numbers together. Between Jan. 3 [and] Jan. 7, we will know how many students aren’t coming to school within that week. Once we get those numbers, we will work with those families and students to try to get them to come to the campus and…do our best to educate them about the school’s cleanliness, safety protocols, and four items,” said Ada, referring to encouraging vaccinations and the “3 W’s”: washing your hands, watching your distance, and wearing a face covering.

Joshua Santos | Reporter
Joshua Santos is a Mount Carmel School AlumKnight and University of Florida Gator Grad with a passion for writing. He is one of Saipan Tribune’s newest reporters. Josh enjoys golf, chess, and playing video games with friends in his spare time. Reach out to him @rarebasedjosh on all socials.

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