Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez spoke at the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay meeting held recently at the Lotte Hotel Guam.
Fernandez gave various GDOE updates — from the available technological equipment to students, federal funds set aside for school needs to plans for the upcoming school year.
A member of the Rotary asked a question regarding students’ emotional and social development being stunted as most haven’t set foot on their school campuses for over a year due to the pandemic.
Fernandez responded, saying that in order for GDOE to better assess that issue, they must first address the matter of face-to-face instruction.
“The strategy is to first get the kids back because I can’t really do much when they’re stuck at home, not engaged, and they’re going through all these issues that you can’t really successfully intervene in. So when it comes to learning loss and learning recovery, our focus is to get the students back in the classrooms so we can assess how they’re doing and we can start working on uncovering the skills and issues they need to address,” Fernandez said.
He added: “When we get the students back, the first step is to not throw them back into the homework that they need to complete the next day. It really is going to take time and effort for the kids to re-adjust back into a routine, back into the interactions with other kids.”
Fernandez also responded to another Rotary member’s question regarding GDOE’s support for teachers and the impact the school year had on them and the upcoming school year.
“We try to be as flexible as possible in allowing teachers to teach online, to be at home if they can effectively do that, and then have the flexibility to deal with students. This didn’t work for every teacher and every situation. But for some it did, for some it didn’t, we kind of learned as we went along and I would learn about these because we get disputes and we try to resolve it,” Fernandez said.
He added: “We need our teachers back. If we do online, then we’re going to start doing online with more parameters around it, on what content area, what age group would really succeed and get out of the mode of doing it as a crisis response.”
Fernandez added that GDOE intends for online learning to still be a part of the curriculum. But he stressed that online learning has to be done separately from the crisis response to help students who can truly benefit from it.
Moreover, Fernandez told PNC that although GDOE normally doesn’t have adult counseling services, they are granting them to GDOE staff and faculty members if he sees the need is currently there.