GDOE pushing vaccinations to enable more face-to-face instruction and accelerate student learning

Guam Department of Education (PNC file photo)

The Guam Department of Education is coming to terms with the full impact of COVID-19 on learning loss and wants to have as many students, faculty, and school staffers vaccinated as soon as possible to pave the way for the full return of face-to-face learning, which is still considered the best model of learning for students.

Toward this end, GDOE has been holding its own vaccination clinics in conjunction with the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

The first one, held at Tiyan high school, had an overall good turnout, with around 200 students and island residents getting their Pfizer vaccine shots.

“As we get into next school year and as the vaccinations continue, we want everyone to feel safe and to help us return to a more normal routine when it comes to teaching and learning. We are really starting to come to terms with the impact of COVID-19 on learning, learning loss and we want our focus to really be heavily on returning to school and beginning to really make sure our kids are back so we can work with them to catch up and to accelerate learning,” GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said.

Regarding the continuation of their immunization clinics, Fernandez says he wants to focus on the COVID-19 vaccinations first.

“Well, right now, we have dedicated clinics for those purposes because we really want to make sure that we’re organized and we have the ability to get students in and out quickly. So at this point, we’re not doing the immunizations and right now, we’re at the high schools … we’re focused on the 16-year-olds and above and we’re supplied with the Pfizer vaccine that will help us hopefully target and prioritize the vaccination. As we head back into the school year, of course, immunization will pick up again and we’ll likely run more opportunities for immunization,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez hopes that they will be able to vaccinate much of their student population and school personnel by the beginning of the next school year.