GDOE stakeholders give input on use of federal funds; summer school eyed

Guam Department of Education (PNC file photo)

The Guam Department of Education held virtual community meetings on Tuesday, asking the community’s input before they finalize the proposal for the incoming federal funds.

The GDOE virtual sessions gave parents and other community stakeholders a chance to give their input relative to the Education Stabilization Fund Program II.

Each video session was divided between elementary, middle, and high schools, with each having their own designated times.

During the virtual meetings, GDOE presented a PowerPoint presentation to stakeholders on the possible items and other necessities that need to be in place after using the funds.

One of the inputs brought on by stakeholders is the possibility of having summer school available for students who want to attend.

Joe Sanchez, GDOE deputy superintendent, said: “The short answer is yes. We’re going to put a substantial amount of resources in building up our summer school program. Again, we want to look at maybe a morning program and an afternoon program so if there are morning students and they want to come in and start the day and get it over with, they can come in the morning. Or if they wake up late and they’re more energized in the afternoon, they can come in the afternoon. Or, in some cases, they really want to come in the morning and afternoon, we can accommodate that too.”

Another input brought on by stakeholders is the possibility of having plexiglass dividers available for students in the classroom.

GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said that when GDOE was able to make funds available, they ordered plexiglass shield dividers for every teacher.

Although GDOE is still considering acquiring plexiglass for students, he’s not sure of the effectiveness of this in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“The challenge there is that science isn’t really clear on the effectiveness of plexiglass shields and we’re waiting to see some of that. In some of the research, it shows that adding plexiglass shields would only increase the number of surfaces that need to be disinfected regularly because they now present a separate type of concern if they’re left without being sanitized on a regular basis,” Fernandez said.

Another challenge with plexiglass is that it impedes adequate air ventilation within the classrooms and one of the factors to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to have adequate air ventilation.

However, Fernandez said GDOE will still suggest plexiglass for students and will provide the support if that’s what’s being requested, especially since this also eases the anxiety on the part of the teachers when they are teaching face-to-face instruction.