NMC creates task force to plan for campus’ safe reopening in fall semester

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NORTHERN Marianas College has created the Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force to develop a plan that will allow for the safe reopening of the campus in the fall semester.

“With deliberate planning and preparation, we are optimistic that we will be able to welcome employees and students back to the campus this fall semester in a gradual, phased manner,” NMC Interim President Frankie Eliptico said.

The task force, he added, has already begun meeting. Among the action plans the task force is considering is “mixing” classes: online and in person.

The task force is also looking at the possibility of requiring employees and students to get tested before returning to school as well as giving masks and providing other materials to enhance safety.

NMC is also considering installing Plexiglas shields at the cashier and during other activities that involve face-to-face interaction.

The college plans to start the fall semester in August, but Eliptico said there is no definite date yet.

“There are a lot of things under consideration,” he added. “Information from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force will guide us throughout the summer.”

Eliptico said, “The health and safety of our students and employees continue to be the top priority, and because of this our campus reopening plans will be guided by information from the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force, CHCC, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other health agencies.”

Graduation in December

NMC will confer about 230 college degrees this year, Eliptico said.

“NMC has postponed its in-person graduation ceremony to December because we don’t want to put students at risk by having large gatherings,” he added.

“We are producing a video and other kinds of activities to commemorate their graduation, but the actual in-person ceremony will be in December.”

NMC initially scheduled the graduation for this month, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it will now be held in December.

Eliptico said NMC conducted a survey among its students and the majority of them wanted an in-person graduation ceremony. The students also supported the idea of postponing the event.

“Nothing can replace the feeling of being surrounded by family members and hundreds of people watching you walk across the stage and earn that degree,” Eliptico said. “We don’t want just to put it online because it is not the same. We want to make sure we honor the occasion.”

He said NMC will assess what the graduation will look like in December while making sure that social distancing rules remain in place.

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