Public schools to reopen in September

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THE Public School System is drawing up various plans for the reopening of public schools in September, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada told the Board of Education in a recent meeting.

One option involved the full reopening of schools, PSS Instruction Technology Director Dr. Bobby Cruz said.

The other option, he added, is the partial reopening of schools — the schedules are “staggered” to reduce the number of students that teachers serve each school day to ensure that social-distancing rules are in place.

PSS can also conduct remote learning for students who will be provided various platforms for online learning, Cruz said.

PSS teachers will undergo training in holding online classes, he added.

PSS can also add an online component to classroom learning, Cruz said.

“This is where the issue about equity and access to technology comes into play,” he said, adding that PSS is relying on the federal Education Stabilization Funds to procure laptops and Wi-Fi devices for the disadvantaged students.

Ada said the PSS management team is evaluating each of these options.

“Every day, different information comes to us in relation to Covid-19, so we have to shift to plan B or plan C. We are looking at all the plans for the long term, especially when we have a second wave of Covid-19 and if there is a lockdown directive again,” Ada said.

BOE member MaryLou Ada wants PSS to address the sanitation and disinfection of schools.

She is also concerned about testing students and school staff. “How are we going to test them, because right now we don’t have a vaccine [for Covid-19]?”

She reminded the PSS management team to provide schools with hand sanitizers and ensure that social-distancing rules are observed.

“How are we going to prevent infection on our public school campuses? This is the first and foremost concern that we have to address before we start talking about learning,” Ada said.

PSS associate commissioner for instructional services Jackie Quitugua said protecting students and teachers is one of the major considerations in the hybrid plan, which will combine classroom and online learning methods.

“Temperature check is something that we have been looking at,” she added, “as well as promoting washing of hands and social distancing… I believe these are already accounted for as part of the requirements or the critical components before we even begin instruction.”

BOE member Philip Mendiola-Long said the PSS management team should work with acting finance director Kimo Rosario and federal programs manager Tim Thornburgh regarding the funding for Covid-19 preparedness.

“I did not see any line item for Covid-19 preparedness and I would assume that it’s going to be a very large [portion] of next year’s budget, especially if we are talking about daily sanitation of buses and classrooms,” Mendiola-Long said.

“Somebody has to get the finance side and let them know what expectations there are for that budget because that can turn the budget upside down overnight…you have to let Kimo and Tim know so that they budget this and let you know right away if they have enough money to cover this,” he added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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