Palau High School gearing up for re-opening of school classrooms on Monday, February 14.

Public schools (both elementary and high schools) are ready to receive students on Monday and resume in-classroom instruction, said Minister Dale Jenkins of the Ministry of Education yesterday. 

“Each school has protocols to ensure a safe place,” stated Jenkins. The protocols vary depending on each school based on differences such as size and location.

“We have extra classrooms not being used and so we have arranged them to be used, to spread students out so that there’s enough space between the students as well as good ventilation,” said Palau High School Principal Smyth Rdang.

In front of every school building where there are classrooms, there are handwashing stations donated by the Japan Government.

“Every classroom has sanitizers, alcohol wipes, and teachers will disinfect the class after each class period,” added Rdang. The seats are set 3 feet apart; both students and teachers are required to wear masks.

“For lunch, we’ve asked students who want take-outs to bring Tupperware containers from home. They can get their food and come outside and eat in the summer houses or other areas outside to minimize congestion in the cafeteria,” explained Principal Rdang regarding the other safety protocol in place.

A notice from Ibobang Elementary School said that there will be no bussing of students and that parents will drop and pick up their kids.

Koror Elementary School’s cafeteria can sit all 86 students at 3 feet apart but the note of the new procedures explains that there will be staggered lunch schedules, monitoring by the teachers, and no grouping activities.

“We hear and understand people’s concerns and that is why we sent out a notice earlier and [have] been working to address those concerns,” said Minister Jenkins. 

“The bottom line is the students have missed enough time. Kids learning is very important. As good as online classes are, classroom in-person instruction is the best,” added Jenkins about the need to re-open classroom instruction. 

He added that some student online work will continue supplementing regular school instruction:  “Except for Peleliu and Kayangel–high school online classes will continue for these two states.”

Meanwhile, resistance to re-opening schools continues, with an anonymous person having started an online petition calling for schools to remain closed, saying that Palau is still seeing a high number of positive cases and that re-opening schools would impact unvaccinated students and senior citizens that may have contact with students.

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