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Public schools to provide counseling for students after Cyclone Gita

This photo taken yesterday and provided by the local Department of Education shows students at Peter Coleman Elementary School in Pago Pago lining up outside of a school building before the start of school yesterday. All public schools re-opened yesterday.  [photo: ASDOE]

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In preparation for the re-opening of public schools that were closed last week following damage caused by Tropical Storm Gita, the local Department of Education (ASDOE) has established teams to assess the psychological impact that the storm had on students.

All public schools re-opened yesterday.

Education director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga said yesterday, “From what we witnessed [yesterday] morning students are happy school is open, teachers and school administrators were out greeting their students and welcoming them back to school and this was echoed on all of our school campuses.”

She also revealed that ASDOE, in preparation for the re-opening of schools, has established a DOE Recovery Team comprising Western, Central and Eastern teams “will be assessing the psychological impact of the Storm Gita on our students.”

“These teams are headed by Assistant Directors of our divisions,” said Matagi-Tofiga, responding to Samoa News follow-up questions yesterday afternoon. “We have a counseling program that has conducted meetings/ workshops with the team as well as principals.”

According to the ASDOE director, the information gathered by the team will be used to refer students to the appropriate ASG agency, such as the Health Department and the Human and Social Services Department.

Samoa News wasn’t able to confirm immediately with each private school if they are also providing the same type of service to their students, nor if they have resumed classes.

With public schools reopened, Matagi-Tofiga said ASDOE acknowledged Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga “for making schools a priority,” ASPA, Public Works Department, and all government departments that “have engaged in this recovery efforts — they certainly epitomize the ASDOE theme ‘TOGETHER WE SUCCEED’.”

She notes that the ASDOE School Lunch Program has provided water coolers for all public and private schools before Gita, in lieu of the boil water notice at the time.

American Samoa Power Authority said early Monday evening that power has been restored to all public and private schools as well as the American Samoa Community College, which also resumed classes yesterday.