SIS uniquely prepared for possible pandemic


Saipan International School headmaster Dr. Ron Snyder, right, celebrating Wear Your Words Day by wearing excerpts from his dissertation, and SIS counselor Whit Altizer have their picture taken at a student safety meeting. (Contributed Photo)

Dr. Ron Snyder’s experience in Ukraine, which forced the closure of the school where he was at due to a possible H1N1 outbreak, is now serving him in good stead at the Saipan International School, where he is its headmaster.

Before coming to Saipan in 2016 and while serving as the secondary principal in Kiev, Ukraine, Snyder took the lead in moving classes online due to the forced closure of their school. Moving their classes online ensured the continuity of instruction, and teachers were able to successfully prepare their students for a demanding set of international baccalaureate exams in May.

Because of this success, Quality Schools International asked Snyder to become the founding director of QSI Virtual School, a post he held until 2014.

SIS has worked with the Division of Public Health to overhaul its admissions procedures and has issued a policy for students traveling to infected areas that includes a mandatory home quarantine.

“There is a lot of panic around COVID-19 currently and I believe that our children are in a safe place. But it is important to us to minimize any possible threat to our students’ safety. So we have put in place measures that exceeds governmental standards,” said Snyder.

As a part of the student safety committee, SIS counselor Whit Altizer and school nurse April Liske-Clark worked with the leadership team to design an overarching policy to maximize student safety.

Snyder earned a doctor of education degree after completing a five-year study on best practices for student acceptance and use of online technologies. His findings included a focus on relatedness needs of students to increase engagement in an online environment. Building off of the design principles developed for the study, SIS has developed an online platform for instructional delivery that will include daily video contact with teachers. All SIS teachers will undergo training in online learning next Monday and plans are in place for conducting a “virtual fire drill” to test out its system.

Additionally, with the support of Tim Thornburgh and federal programs, SIS was able to implement a 1:1 program in 2017, whereby each student has access to a device (iPad or laptop) to access the Internet for research and learning purposes. SIS students use technology daily at school and are familiar with learning systems such as Class Dojo, Google Classroom, Moodle, AP Classroom and the school’s online learning management system, OpenSIS. (Milagro Saiki/SIS)

Milagro Saiki (SIS)

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