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Schools permitted to reopen subject to approval and assessment of reopening plans

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(Office of the Governor) — As a result of discussions between the Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and education stakeholders from Northern Marianas College, the Public School System, and the Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres announced on Thursday that schools are permitted to safely reopen subject to approval of reopening plans and assessment of facilities.

Due to the continued success of the CNMI’s Covid-19 preventative measures at the borders, as well as the cooperation of our community in adhering to guidance from our health officials, the Commonwealth remains safe from the spread of Covid-19.

Health and safety protocols have been discussed by the Covid-19 Task Force with the Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools, PSS, NMC, and CHCC, to safely reopen schools and permit in-person instruction.

The Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force, Department of Public Works-Building Code officials, and CHCC will review submitted reopening plans from schools, as well as conduct site assessments to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements based on classroom square footage and reopening guidance provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Directive 15 of the CNMI Covid-19 Emergency Directives will be rescinded to ensure full implementation of the reopening schools as part of the islands’ ongoing economic and educational reopening plans.

“Based on our discussions with our educational leaders from NMC, PSS, and our private school coalition, the CNMI is in a better position to safely reopen schools through compliance with social distancing and safeguarding our students, teachers, parents, and school staff,” said Governor Torres.

“We have been successful in keeping Covid-19 away from our community by identifying cases at the border. Reopening education and our overall economy will help bring a sense of normalcy, ensure continued learning for our students, and assist our teachers and staff with their salaries and income. We also understand that our parents and teachers must feel safe and secure, which is why we want school reopening plans to be approved first by our task force, DPW, and CHCC so that we can successfully do this together,” the governor added.

Schools will be allowed to implement an in-person instructional model, an online model, or a hybrid of both.

Additionally, the Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force and CHCC are advising returning resident students from South Korea to practice a 14-day home quarantine before resuming their studies.

As of Aug. 13, 2020, the CNMI had reported 49 confirmed Covid-19 cases since March 28, 2020. Of the total 49 confirmed cases, 25 cases, or more than half, have been identified through port of entry screening procedures in accordance with the CNMI Covid-19 Emergency Directives.

The last confirmed case of community spread within the CNMI was reported on June 3, 2020.

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