GDOE school opening may be pushed back

Guam Department of Education (PNC file photo)

The start of the new school year for the public school system may be pushed back in order to make sure that teachers, parents, and students are fully up to speed with the technology and other requirements of the new distance learning method, which is one of the methods that the Guam Department of Education is adopting this year due to the coronavirus.

For now, GDOE is looking at an opening date of Aug. 17.

GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez told senators during a legislative information briefing Monday that the Guam Education Board recently approved technology standards for public schools and that even before the coronavirus pandemic, teachers were already being trained in the new education technology and distance learning as part of their professional development.

But with COVID-19, Fernandez said GDOE had to accelerate this training.

Fernandez said many teachers already attended the training and professional development sessions during the summer on a volunteer basis even though it was summer break and they did not have to attend.

Still, Fernandez said they are proposing to the Guam Education Board to push the new school year back several days so they can allot that first week of the school year for familiarization with the new technology and the new health and safety measures.

The Guam Education Board is set to meet tonight to decide on a final date for the reopening of school.

According to Fernandez, GDOE is already working on how to modify its consolidated grant in order to “double down” or expand GDOE’s online education and distance learning programs.

“Luckily the funds that have come through will allow us to move more quickly in that direction,” Fernandez said.