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Over 700 PSS employees receive furlough notices

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THE Public School System on Monday sent furlough letters to about 730 locally funded employees.


“Effective April 15, 2020, PSS is implementing a temporary furlough for locally funded positions. This notice is to inform you that your position is included in this furlough and as such, you are being placed on a temporary unpaid leave of absence effective April 15, 2020,” stated the letter signed by Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada.
The letter added that PSS is trying to ensure its financial stability which was affected by the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The current pandemic has impacted PSS’ services significantly, and as a result, we find that we must make some difficult personnel decisions,” the letter stated.
Ada said the furlough is expected to last for the next 12 months. “It is important to note that your employment continues but you are not required to report to work,” he added.
Under PSS regulations, the commissioner on education “may use furloughs for more than 30 days if there is reasonable assurance that the employees’ furlough will be returned to duty within the next 12 months.”
A Hopwood Middle School teacher confirmed she received her furlough letter. “I don’t know what will happen to the students if in August, the beginning of the school year, we are still in furlough,” said the teacher who declined to be identified. She said PSS will be left with about 300 federally funded employees to oversee more than 10,000 students.  PSS had 866 locally funded employees, but over 100 of them have been transferred to federally funded positions.
For furloughed employees who have found alternative employment and do not intend to return to the school system, PSS advises them to notify its human resources office immediately about their voluntary resignation.
PSS at the same time informed the furloughed employees that they are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.
“The CNMI Department of Labor is currently in the planning stages and as soon as more information on the guidelines, procedures, eligibility requirements and applications are made available, PSS will broadcast information on where you can apply for such benefits. It is advisable that you keep a copy of this letter and present this letter as evidence of your employment status,” PSS human resources director Lucretia Borja said, adding that her office will regularly update employees regarding federal assistance programs.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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