Public schools welcome students in a learning environment sensitive to COVID-19 | New

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For the first time in 18 months, public school campuses buzzed with activity as nearly 28,000 students returned to face-to-face teaching.

While the Guam Department of Education had face-to-face learners on campus last year, it was only a fraction of the student body.

Those who returned to classroom instruction on Thursday saw what GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez described as the “new normal.”

“We all want to see our kids again and it’s pretty exciting to see the normal buzz around school campuses with students there and trying to help our kids settle in for the day,” Fernandez said.

But as Fernandez pointed out, it’s been 18 months since GDOE conducted school operations on this scale with 92% of its student body face-to-face and 8% online.

On the first day of school, Fernandez stopped at Jose Rios College in Piti.

“I spoke to the administrators and staff who help coordinate the movement of the students. There’s always a lot going on the first day of school, ”said Fernandez.

Add health and safety protocols to the mix, Fernandez said, and students will need time to adjust.

The students were screened and their temperature checked when they were dropped off or disembarked from the school buses. They were then taken to seats outside, which met the 6-foot physical distancing guidelines. There they waited for their lessons to begin.

As the rain, new protocols and a bit of traffic have added a level of difficulty to the first day of operations, Fernandez said “it’s a bit early to see how things are going”.

Schools have reopened amid the recent increase in COVID-19 cases on the island.

“We live in this environment where we are becoming experts in monitoring the latest health data and so on… we took a long time planning this day.”

This planning enabled the GDOE to implement 10 strategies to tackle health and safety, including vaccination, screening, use of masks, physical distancing measures, disinfection and hand washing.

“We reminded our employees that this is what we had planned. We are serious about following the rules and I think our students are used to following the rules. In many ways we are much safer than other areas of the community, ”Fernandez said.

Fernandez pointed out that to date, the positive COVID-19 cases reported by the GDOE have not been contracted at school sites.


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