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Rota’s Catholic school ‘suspends operation’

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ESKUELAN San Francisco De Borja is “suspending its operation” due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the private schools representative to the Board of Education, Dr. Galvin Deleon Guerrero.

ESFDB was established in August 1989 to provide students with “academic excellence within a Catholic community of faith.”

During the Board of Education meeting on Friday, Public School System federal programs manager Tim Thornburgh said the school has closed because of very low enrollment.

But Deleon Guerrero, who is also  president of Mount Carmel School and the Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools, said the Rota school intends to reopen, “possibly for the 2021-2022 school year.”

“In general, this pandemic and its corresponding lockdown have challenged all private schools in numerous ways. Since all private schools rely almost entirely on tuition revenue, the economic downturn has affected parents' ability to pay tuition,” Deleon Guerrero said in an email to Variety.

In addition, he said, private schools have incurred considerable costs by implementing Covid-19 mitigation measures to ensure that they comply with the guidelines required by the Covid-19 Task Force.

“While federal funding from the PSS federal programs has helped offset those costs, not all costs have been covered by federal funds,” he added.

The pandemic, he said, has also posed a challenge to the mental and social-emotional well-being of everyone in schools.

“However, despite all these challenges, CNMI private schools remain committed to keeping our students and teachers safe while continuing to help our students learn and grow,” he added.

At the BOE meeting on Friday, Thornburgh said PSS will reprogram the $24,249 allocated for ESFDB for school repair.

“We will work to reprogram this. I just need to check with my program officer and how much flexibility they [the federal government] will give us because this is an approved project. But this one can’t go forward because the school was closed,” Thornburgh told the board members.

The money is part of a $12.3 million  Project Restart grant that was awarded to  PSS by the U.S. Department of Education to support the reconstruction and repair of public schools devastated by Super Typhoon Yutu in October 2018.

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