The opening day for the new school year will still be next Monday, August 17th, despite concerns raised from some members of the Guam Education Board.
During a meeting Tuesday afternoon, GEB member John Burch made a motion to postpone the reopening date from August 17th to August 24th to allow teachers to have more time to prepare for the new school year.
Burch was defeated by a vote of 3 to 5.
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.
“Based on the latest information, it looks like 62 percent of our students are opting to stay at home. That means about 38 percent are going to be coming to school in three different groups, so they won’t be coming in all at once. One-third of the face to face students will be coming each day,” Fernandez said.
As for concerns raised about schools having to shut down if positive cases are identified on campus, Fernandez says that these scenarios will be addressed on a case by case basis, with the agency assisting Public Health for contact tracing. He says multiple people who are found to be positive may warrant a shutdown, but not for isolated cases.
GDOE has also begun distributing personal protective equipment and safety supplies to the island’s public, private, and charter schools. These supplies were procured using funding from the CARES Act and include thermal scanners, hand sanitizers, and masks for students and employees. Fernandez says that this was the first shipment of equipment and should last the first month of the school year.
Fernandez also mentioned that the Department of Public Works has expressed they will have the capacity to transport students by bus this academic year.
“My understanding is there are about 95 buses and bus drivers that we can count on. If that’s the case, if those are the numbers, then we would need for the face to face students about 82 buses for the elementary level and lower than that for the middle and high schoolers to transport all the students. That’s assuming every student who goes to school rides the bus,” Fernandez said.
GDOE will meet with Guam Homeland Security tomorrow as part of an exercise to address gaps and improve school opening operations.