Fernandez acknowledges ‘challenges’ of new schedule but says DPW was notified about the change

(GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez)

The Guam Department of Education acknowledged on Wednesday that it faced a number of “challenges” when it returned to a 5-day schedule this week.

GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said the inclement weather and the COVID-19 safety protocols in place slowed down traffic in the schools.

“Obviously, the heavy weather and the rains did not help us during the first couple of days, especially because it was raining heaviest during the time when our kids were being dropped off to school. Because of this, there was a lot of traffic at certain schools and there were delays in drop off as both school kids and parents tried to stay dry,” Fernandez said during a media briefing Wednesday.

He added that with all the COVID-19 safety protocols in place, it became a bit more of a challenge to get kids into the campuses quickly.

“And also, everybody was trying to physically distance themselves at the same time that they were trying to avoid the rain. So it was a big challenge to address that situation,” the education superintendent said.

Fernandez also corrected reports that he did not inform the Department of Public Works about the change in schedule which resulted in school bus problems.

“I just want to clarify that I did speak to Linda Ibanez at DPW. As soon as we found out that we would start on Monday with all schools and all in-person students coming back, we did notify DPW. Of course, we were aware, as we have always been aware, that at this point they are dealing with a shortage of bus drivers. But we did notify them and they did alert us that there will be some manpower challenges. But as we always do, we work hand in hand to try to make sure we take care of our kids and get them to school as timely as possible,” Fernandez said.

He added that GDOE schools are still in the midweek point and there’s still a couple of days left in the school week.

“We’re still assessing and monitoring how this first week is going,” Fernandez said.