Fernandez confirms GDOE has received $54M from CARES Act

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Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez (PNC file photo)

With students out of school because of COVID-19, around $54 million from the CARES ACT will be given to Guam to provide relief and support for educational activities in the midst of the pandemic.

Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez told K57’s Patti Arroyo that the department, as the state education agency, will receive around $41 million to support distance learning and other issues.

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“What this is … is to provide immediate support to our school system, as well as private and nonprofit schools, to address some of the impacts of COVID-19 which ranges anywhere from sanitizing and cleaning schools, to supporting distance learning, and so forth,” Fernandez said.

The remaining $12 million from Guam’s allocation will go to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to address continued learning for students in all schools, including post-secondary institutions.

And with public school students currently learning remotely, GDOE is working to provide instruction and gradable assignments for the next term. Fernandez says that the agency’s goal for the next school year is to provide distance learning to all students.

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“We’re really looking at having to plug a lot of gaps. We’re looking at a phased approach next school year where the goal is to provide distance learning to all students given the situation that we’re in,” Fernandez said.

The Education Stabilization Fund of the CARES Act sets aside over $153 million for all the U.S. territories, according to a release from Congressman Michael San Nicolas.

READ the release from Guam DOE in FULL below:

May 7, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

$54 MILLION IN EDUCATION FUNDING TO SUPPORT COVID-19 RESPONSE, DISTANCE LEARNING, HEALTH AND SAFETY

Guam Department of Education (GDOE) Superintendent Jon Fernandez received news from U.S. Department of Education Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, which confirmed that Guam would receive $54,021,960 for the island’s Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) award. This award is part of the $153.75 million allocated to the Outlying Areas through the ESF under section 18001(a)(1) of the CARES Act. 

Of this amount, $41.5 million will go directly to the Guam Department of Education as the State Education Agency to provide funding to support both public and non-public schools. In addition, $12.5 million is allocated to the Governor of Guam to provide further support for education.

These emergency relief funds will help Guam address the impact that COVID-19 has had on elementary and secondary schools throughout the island. The letter from DeVos emphasized the need to think creatively about investments in technology, professional development, and new delivery methods to help students continue to learn through remote methods and teaching strategies. The funding can also be used to address health and safety needs in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are grateful to receive the news that resources will soon become available to assist our island as we continue to evaluate the impacts of COVID-19 on teaching and learning not only this school year, but next school year as well,” GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said. “While we look forward to the day when we can welcome our students back to campuses, we must build our capacity for remote learning, and these resources will provide some much needed relief.” 

The GDOE will be following federal guidance and considering investments in safety, technology, professional development, as well as remote teaching and learning methods. Superintendent Fernandez will be seeking input from education stakeholders over the next week as he works to finalize the required application that will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. In an effort to ensure transparency, he will also task the GDOE Audit Office with providing an accountability and reporting structure that will ensure public accountability for these funds. 

“We look forward to implementing a plan that reflects our community’s priorities and that will ensure we are able to keep our kids safe and maintain teaching and learning as our island recovers from COVID-19,” Fernandez said. “As we develop this plan, we want our community’s support and will monitor and account for every dollar spent on behalf of our students.”