Starting in the fall of 2021, which is in August, more than 70% of the Northern Marianas College’s classes will already be face-to-face, but interim president Frankie Eliptico acknowledged yesterday that NMC will no longer attain 100% of that format.
Speaking about NMC’s budget at a public hearing before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means, Eliptico said the 100% face-to-face modality is no longer feasible because they’ve learned during the pandemic that many students prefer online classes.
The interim president said these students are thriving and succeeding in an online environment because it afforded them the opportunity to continue their jobs and all the other obligations that they have to meet without having to attend classes in person.
“So we wanted to stress that we’re not going back, the college is not going back to pre-pandemic levels. That world will no longer exist for us,” Eliptico said.
He said their focus now is how the college is adapting—just like all the other colleges and universities in how they are using the pandemic to maximize learning and continue the integrity of the classes, even amid the pandemic and after the pandemic. “It’s ‘What did we learn in the pandemic, and how are we moving forward,’” he said.
In the meantime, Eliptico said, they still welcome students on campus as they’re having face-to-face student activities. He said they are making sure, however, that they are enforcing COVID-19 restrictions, including asking students to stay home when they’re sick, keeping their distance, using face masks on campus and many other improvements to the NMC facility.
Eliptico also stated that despite super typhoons Soudelor and Yutu and COVID-19, their enrollment numbers continue to be strong. “We do continue to have degree programs and bachelor’s and associate’s levels in various areas, including business management, nursing, business administration with various emphasis, including accounting, business management, computer application, and others in high demand here, including nursing,” he said.
Eliptico said a number of graduates at the college continues to increase and that the latest figures that they have is approximately 250 students or 250 were degrees conferred. “So we remain strong,” he said, noting that they have over 100% increase in enrollment from about 10 years ago.
He said more and more students are looking to NMC for their professional growth and development. In fact, despite the pandemic, typhoons, or no matter what the disaster is, they’ve been able to continue a strong enrollment, Eliptico said. He attributed this to their strong relationship with the Public School System and the expansion of programs at NMC.
Also, despite the pandemic, NMC did not cancel any programs. “We did not postpone any programs. We continued on an online environment and when it was safe to do so, we were starting to peel back some of the restrictions,” he said.
The interim president said many of their classes are now using a face-to-face format.
When Saipan Tribune left the hearing yesterday afternoon, some NMC officials were still testifying.