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Education dept. shares plans with cabinet to partially reopen schools

virtual cabinet meeting
Gov challenges cabinet members to “remain steadfast in your calling”

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — During Wednesday’s virtual cabinet meeting, the local Education Department presented ASDOE’s Hybrid Plan to reopen schools for in-class instruction on alternating days, according to a news release yesterday from the Governor’s Office, saying that the presentation was made by Education director Talauega Dr. Samasoni Asaeli.

According to the news release, Early Childhood Education (ECE), Kindergarten, and Grades One through Four will continue virtual learning from home. Grade Five to High School Seniors will have a staggered schedule, one day per week in-class instruction, four days virtual learning from home. Only eighth graders and High School seniors will have a schedule of two days a week in-class instruction, and three days of virtual learning from home.

School meals will be provided everyday for all students. They will be served at the schools for those attending in-class learning, and delivered to the homes of the students doing virtual learning.

According to the news release, Health Department director Motusa Tuileama Nua provided an update on COVID-19 during the cabinet meeting while Budget Office deputy director reiterated the Budget Call memo for fiscal year 2023, that was sent out to departments and agencies with the FY 2023 budget due date of May 13.

At the start of the cabinet meeting — the second one conducted virtually this year — Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga addressed cabinet members.

“During these challenging times, many of our leaders have been questioned, however, I urge you all to remain steadfast in your calling,” the governor stated in his opening remarks. He encouraged the cabinet to remember the cornerstone that the American Samoa Government was built upon, “It is God whom we trust to grant us the wisdom to lead our people.”

He continued remarks recalling when he and Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Ale were selecting their Cabinet appointees, “God blessed us with a foresight of choosing you as leaders. We chose you as esteemed Leaders with the assurance that your prior experiences and your credibility qualified you to serve. During this difficult time, you have all exceeded our expectations, and we thank you for your service to the people of American Samoa.”

In his final remarks, Governor Lemanu recited the London Missionaries Society Hymn number 143, a Psalm of King David: “Le Alii e, ia malulu mai, O matou loto fatu nei, Foa’i mai ia le loto fou, Le loto lava e lelei.

“This hymn summarizes the guidance we need as leaders. Whatever stone is casted [sic] our way, our priority remains the same as in the beginning, to provide the best quality of service to the people of our Territory. I ask you to continue to serve wholeheartedly, honestly, and humbly,” Lemanu stated.

Prior to the conclusion of the meeting, Talauega commended cabinet members for their diligence during the COVID-19 surge. “Today marks 59 days since the first community outbreak, I applaud your responses and resiliency. There are a lot of changes in our way of life, however God has seen us through our hardships,” he said.

He highlighted the decline in the positive COVID cases reported by the Department of Health, providing a brief comparison in his statement.

“Since February 21st, our highest reported number in positive cases in one day was 386 on March 24th; on April 4th, DOH reported 3,116 active cases. As of April 19th, DOH reported 36 positive cases in one day bringing the total of active cases to 596.

“Our heartfelt condolences to our families who have lost a loved one due to this pandemic. Our continued prayers are with you all,” Talauega said.

“As we see the decline in our positive cases and a high rate of recovered cases, let us continue to safeguard our Territory by abiding to the precautions and policies presented by our medical experts, and continue our priorities to the people of American Samoa; do not let COVID stand in the way of our primary duties,” he added.

“May we continue to depend on God’s grace as we move forward,” stated Talauega in closing.