Fernandez allays teacher concerns about safety equipment

GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez says he understands the anxiety of preparing for a new school year in unprecedented circumstances....but that the agency is as ready as they can be to start classes. (PNC file photo)

The Guam Department of Education is still eyeing Aug. 17 to start the new academic year, but they can’t start classes until they obtain safety equipment for their staff and students.

Superintendent Jon Fernandez acknowledges that some teachers may feel anxious about the new school year, but says the agency is monitoring the safety supply procurement. These supplies include masks, plexiglass shields, and disinfectants.

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“Our plan and hope is to make sure that all of the supplies are here and out to the schools by or before August 12th. We will have teachers coming in and they’re going to be asked to provide face masks for those first few days. As the supplies come in and get to the schools, these supplies will go to the employees as well as the students,” Fernandez said.

Teachers are currently organizing themselves to accommodate the three ways students will learn this year. Out of over 20,000 responses from parents and guardians, a majority of students want to learn from home.

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“The high schools are closer to that 70 and 30 percent split. As they get younger, middle school is 62 to 38 percent…and 60 to 40 in the elementary school level. That means 60 percent staying home and 40 percent coming to school face to face. We’re just continuing to monitor and accept the registrations coming in, but I don’t think that split of who’s in school and who’s not is going to change dramatically,” Fernandez said.

Over the course of next week, teachers will undergo training about distance learning and safety protocols.