Torres urges PSS, private schools to mandate vaccinating teachers, staff, eligible students

PSS, private schools urged to develop contingency plan for temporary suspension of in-person learning in the event of COVID-19 community spread

Citing the rapid spread of the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus in Guam in the past few days, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has requested the Public School System and private schools to consider mandating vaccinations for all teachers, employees, and eligible students.

In a letter last week to Board of Education chair Andrew L. Orsini and Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred B. Ada, Torres also asked that the PSS to reconsider the current protocols for classes.

The governor encouraged PSS and private schools to develop a contingency plan for transitioning to virtual/remote learning and temporary suspension of in-person learning, should a community spread of the COVID-19 virus occur.

He said the occurrence of the delta variant has been increasingly prevalent in the region and that it is spreading rapidly across Guam, with hundreds of new cases over the course of just a few days.

Torres noted the uptick in the number of positive COVID-19 cases among arriving passengers and this has included individuals carrying the delta variant.

He said there is much that they do not yet know about this new variant but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that it is much more easily transferable.

The governor said they are also seeing increased numbers of people across the country admitted to hospitals with more serious COVID-19 symptoms.

While there is much they still do not know about the delta variant, Torres said what is known is that vaccinated individuals are less likely to suffer the more severe health symptoms that have been associated with the COVID-19 virus.

The governor said his office has received numerous calls from concerned parents inquiring as to why they have not mandated vaccinations for PSS and private school teachers and staff, and why are they holding in-person classes.

Torres said he has let them know that taking such measures is outside his authority and the PSS is reviewing its current protocols.

“I know that this is a difficult time for our PSS, our private schools, and our students and their families,” he said.

Last Friday, Torres announced that the CNMI has officially reached 80% vaccination of its eligible population ages 12 years and older.

Last month, PSS Commissioner Ada reported to the Board of Education that 80% of teachers and staff at PSS elementary schools have already been vaccinated.

Ada said for students, the average percentage of vaccinated was 49% as of last month.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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