‘Vaxx rates for PSS staff, students are pretty high’


Bonnie Pangelinan

The Public School System’s vaccination rates for staff and students alike in the CNMI are pretty high, according to Dr. Bonnie Pangelinan, who is the PSS associate commissioner for Student and Support Services.

In her presentation before the House of Representatives Committee on Education on Monday about PSS’ plan to resume in-person classes, Pangelinan said that vaccination is only the first phase of ensuring that the school campuses are safe from COVID-19.

As for staff vaccination rates, Pangelinan said the vaccination rates in all elementary schools are at least 81% and above. In secondary schools, they’re also at 81% vaccination rates or above, with some schools such as Dr. Rita H. Inos High School, Tinian High School, and Saipan Southern High 
School at 100%, she added.

Pangelinan said the way that they used to determine whether or not secondary schools are going to resume in-person classes was different compared to elementary schools.

In elementary schools, they only measured the rates of vaccination for the staff and teachers and if it is at 80%, they open elementary schools for full face-to-face learning, she said.

In secondary schools, because the eligible age for vaccination was from 12 to 17, they had to measure both staff and student vaccination rates, Pangelinan said.

So as it stands, she said, they only have three secondary schools that are open: Tinian Junior Senior High School, Dr. Rita Hocog Inos Junior Senior High School, and Marianas High School.

Leila Staffler

Pangelinan said Saipan Southern High School is currently at 77% and it is forecasted to be at 81% as soon as a handful of students get their second doses.

She said they are tracking and monitoring the vaccination rates in the secondary schools very closely.

Now that the eligible age for vaccination was lowered to the age range of 5 to 11 years old, Pangelinan said they have started vaccination campaigns on all campuses.

To date, she said, they have had 66 students at Koblerville Elementary School who’ve been vaccinated, 68 at San Vicente Elementary School, and 48 students at Tinian Elementary School. She said vaccination for Oleai Elementary School was set for yesterday.

Last Nov. 12, the Board of Education met and extended the closures of in-person classes to Nov. 29. The in-person classes were supposed to resume last Nov. 15.

Pangelinan said they sent out follow up surveys last week to parents, teachers, and staff and instituted online learning, and also provided meals through grab-and-go in several locations.

She said they then we worked with the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. to sustain ongoing vaccination efforts in all school campuses.

Pangelinan said that during the school-based screening last Oct. 28, there were some COVID-19 case that were discovered in school campuses. She said the first thing they did was work with the COVID-19 Task Force to determine whether or not they need to close one school, a classroom, a cluster, or all schools.

Immediately afterwards, Pangelinan said, they provided deep sanitizing to other school campuses, and instituted communication with PSS stakeholders.

This time, the associate commissioner said, they had a governor’s directive to close all public and private schools on all three islands as well as the Northern Marianas College.

“We did deep sanitizing in our school campuses and then we let out a parent survey to collect feedback from our families on whether or not they felt safe on our school campuses,” Pangelinan said.

The committee is chaired by Rep. Leila C. Staffler (D-Saipan).

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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