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Covid-19 will hold students back, says lawmaker

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THE Covid-19 pandemic will reduce the students’ ability to achieve their dreams, said Rep. Roman C. Benavente, chairman of the House Committee on Education.

In an interview on Tuesday, the former Board of Education chairman said that due to the restrictions imposed on the community to prevent the spread of the pandemic, “a lot of adjustments need to be made” in order to help students continue on their road to academic success.

Benavente said he is seeking reelection in Precinct 1 “because I want to take part in [those] adjustments” the CNMI government needs to make to address the  situation the students are facing.

He said he is “not confident” about the $24 million that the Public Law 21-35 or the Fiscal Year Budget Act appropriated for the Public School System.

“With the economic impact of [the] Covid-19 pandemic, people will now have to deal with the new normal in terms of their livelihood,” he said.

His goal now, if reelected, is to focus on protecting the interest of students and schools.

“That is my main objective. As a former BOE chair, scholarship board member, [and] Parent Teacher Association officer, I want to continue protecting the children in whatever I do in the Legislature,” said Benavente who authored the legislative initiative that requires the allocation of 25% of government revenues for PSS.

Asked about the PSS budget, Education Commissioner Alfred B. Ada said, “We will be okay with $24 million until maybe April next year. But we are expecting more money coming in.”

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