GDOE will tackle student truancy next but with tolerance knowing COVID’s effect on families

Guam Department of Education (PNC file photo)

The Guam Department of Education is now turning its attention to students who are facing certain obstacles preventing them from attending schools.

GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez says that GDOE’s outreach workers and attendance officers are now going back to their more traditional rule of identifying students who are having issues with attending classes.

“For instance this year, it might look like, you know, because we have online students, it might be an online student who might’ve come to the first four classes, but during the last 3 classes, hasn’t signed in, with no communication. At that point, teachers and administrators become concerned. Over time, the social workers would be needed to try to establish contact with the family and do home visits. Those are the kinds of situations we’re dealing with now,” Fernandez said.

However, GDOE’s truancy rules will still have some leniency as they are still very much understanding of the current situation and the impacts the pandemic has made on many families.

“It doesn’t really make sense to begin penalizing families that are trying to connect to schools or just having difficulties. We’re well aware of families that are in distress, we’re well aware of the unemployment numbers, the revenue numbers. We know that families are feeling the pain. And so what we’re trying to do is have school be a source of positive support for those families. Kids can have a sense of routine when they come to class and have their work done. We want to get more students back face-to-face when it’s safe to do so … that’s really been our strategy,” Fernandez said.

He added that they will tackle truancy issues when GDOE is allowed more enrollment for face-to-face instruction. When GDOE gets to that point, they will remind parents of their legal obligations to have their children go to school and let families know of their stance with regard to student attendance.