GDOE brings back school uniform requirement

GDOE students (PNC file photo)

The Guam Department of Education has officially made its decision on school uniforms — they will continue to be required.

Last school year, the Guam Board of Education waived the uniform mandate because of the concerns regarding families and their financial situation and the impact of the pandemic.

But during Tuesday’s board meeting, the Guam Education Board decided they are now in a position to bring back the uniform mandate based on the online uniform survey results given over the summer.

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According to GEB Chairperson Mark Mendiola, who went on air with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo, over 4,800 stakeholders responded to the survey and over 60% voted to revert back to mandatory school uniforms for the upcoming school year.

Superintendent Jon Fernandez tells PNC that GDOE will now work with the schools to make sure they can work with vendors to provide the uniforms, especially for families who are in dire financial straits.

“I think from the parents’ perspective, we got overwhelming support from parents who responded to the poll. I think for some parents, uniforms are a more affordable and simple option compared to purchasing clothes for the students, for every day of the school year, and trying to balance that out. I think for some parents, this will work and for parents who have been impacted financially by COVID-19, we’re encouraging those families to work closely with the schools to determine what kind of support they can work out with our uniform vendors. Typically, our uniform vendors provide vouchers to all of our schools so families who may need that support are able to get a free uniform set for their students and we’re hoping to see that kind of support by next year,” Fernandez said.

With the uniform mandate reinstated, Fernandez says vendors are now ready to work with schools for the upcoming school year.

“We know that the vendors were unable to sell the vast majority of their uniforms last year when we waived that requirement. So I know they’ve been storing those uniforms and were awaiting the board’s decision which was in favor of returning to the uniform mandate. So I’m sure the vendors are going to be working with the schools to make sure they have enough uniforms to support the students,” Fernandez said.

He added that coming from the school administrators’ perspectives, safety is one of the biggest benefits of the uniform mandate.

With the uniforms, school faculty will be able to identify students who belong on their campuses versus those who might come on by without authorization.

The official first day of classes will be on August 12