Gov. Ralph Torres is "strongly" encouraging the Public School System and private schools to ensure that all teachers, staff and eligible students get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I also encourage PSS and private schools to develop a contingency plan for a transition to virtual/remote learning and temporary suspension of in-person learning, in the event that a community spread of the COVID-19 virus should occur," he said in a letter to Board of Education Chair Andrew Orsini and Education Commissioner Alfred Ada.

"As you are aware, the occurrence of the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has been increasingly prevalent in our region," Torres said. "The delta variant is spreading rapidly across Guam with hundreds of new cases there over the course of just a few days. We have seen an upward trajectory in the number of positive COVID-19 cases by incoming passengers here in the CNMI, and this has included individuals carrying the delta variant."

He said his "office has received numerous calls from concerned parents inquiring as to why we have not mandated vaccinations for PSS and private school teachers and staff, and why we are holding in-person classes. I have let them know that taking such measures is outside of my authority and that PSS is reviewing the current protocols."

Saying that the "health of our community overrides all other concerns ... I respectfully request that PSS revisit and reconsider the current protocols for classes and consider mandating the vaccine for all PSS employees and eligible students," the governor added.

"While there is much we still do not know about the delta variant, what we do know is that vaccinated individuals are less likely to suffer the more severe health symptoms that have been associated with the COVID-19 virus," the governor said.

"I know that this is a difficult time for our PSS, our private schools, and our students and their families. Thank you for all of the work you have done throughout this pandemic to keep our PSS employees and our students as safe as possible," he added.

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