GDOE finalizing plans for the coming school year

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The Guam Department of Education aims to have their plans for the next school year finalized and approved by the end of the month.

Every detail — from deciding how classes will be held to how meals will be eaten — are on the table for discussion.

With graduation season at a close, thousands of families are preparing for a new school year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Guam Department of Education is presenting three options pending board approval which would involve having students go through online instruction from home, use hard copy instructional packets from home, or take a combination of distance learning and in-person classes.

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How instruction will be determined, according to GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez, will be through surveys the agency will give out to parents.

“As we get closer to the start of the school year, we will be conducting surveys and gathering information during registration to make sure we understand which students have reliable access to the internet and which students will have challenges going online. That will help us figure how to ensure that we provide the hard copy lesson or online support as needed,” Fernandez said.

As for those who will be attending classes in-person, Fernandez says that students may go through a staggered schedule in which they’ll be separated into three groups based on the alphabet.

“The recommendation right now is to divide school enrollment based on the alphabet so that those whose last names fall within a certain part of the alphabet will go to school on the same days and there will be three different groups. The reasoning behind that is that we wanted to take into consideration the impact of the schedules on families. We hope that this will help the members of the same household — you know, siblings in the same household — go to school on the same day,” Fernandez said.

For siblings who don’t have the same last name, Fernandez says that the agency will work to accommodate them.

He also acknowledged that this upcoming school year will definitely be a unique one and that plans for busing, sports, and taking into account students with special needs are being discussed.

And even eating lunch and breakfast may be changed.

“We don’t anticipate cafeteria eating will be possible during this school year. So it’s more than likely that we’ll have to shift to eating meals in the classroom instead of in the cafeteria and that’ll help in meeting our safety parameters. Of course, that will require a change in how our cafeteria prepares and distributes the food so that kids can take it to their classroom, eat, clean up, and resume teaching and learning,” Fernandez said.

GDOE will discuss the reopening plan for the next school year with parents in a meeting next Tuesday, June 24, at 3 p.m. which will be streamed live on their Facebook page.

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