Governor’s executive order paves the way for home visitation by GDOE

Guam Department of Education (PNC file photo)

With the official approval given by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, GDOE can now move forward with not just the re-opening of schools but other plans as well like the planned home visitation of absentee students.

GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez has welcomed the governor’s order, saying they can now move forward with the plans they have long prepared for since the beginning of the school year.

“Her timeframe of re-opening on January 18 will allow us to meet our first day of our planned opening on the 19th. The benefit of that, of course, is that we’ve assured the governor that should the health situation change from where it is today, meaning should the COVID get worse, we do reserve the right to re-visit our plans if we don’t think it’s safe enough to come back for face-to-face instruction,” Fernandez said.

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Another benefit of the changes of the executive order is that it now allows GDOE to go forward with home visitation and be able to locate the rest of the absentee students.

“Right now, we’re at about 550 of those students and hopefully with home visits, we’ll be able to verify their status. If they’ve relocated off-island, we’ll be able to verify that. If they’ve moved, we can track down if they’ve registered in their nearest school. Hopefully, we can provide supplies to them, school supplies to help them prepare and our goal is to reconnect them back with their schools and teachers and we’re grateful that we’re given the chance to do that,” Fernandez said.

Though GDOE originally had planned to set up cohorts for reopening, dividing them into 3 groups and have alternating campus schedules to abide by COVID-19 regulations, according to Fernandez, the numbers of participants for face-to-face instruction have changed recently.

“The registration that we had conducted gave us a lower number of students than anticipated. So we have about 7,000 students … over 7,000 students who were registered. But that is clearly a minority of students based on our 28,000 student enrolment,” Fernandez said.

Additionally, Fernandez says GDOE is currently working on a schedule so all schools will be able to let their students know when exactly they can come back to their respective schools for face-to-face instruction.

School administrators are rescheduling the required training for all employees relative to the safety preparations and procedures in their schools.

Fernandez hopes that within the two weeks, schools will have time for student and parent orientations so that they will have a chance to set foot on campuses and see how things will be run before the first day of face-to-face instruction.

GDOE will also continue with their preparations and monitor the island’s health situation for the next two weeks, further strengthening their plans for re-opening and closing, in case any changes occur.