The scene on Sunday morning at the reopening of ROSS Dress for Less in Tamuning and Dededo raises a myriad of issues.
For one, many of our fellow residents chose to be among those who stood in long lines for a chance to shop at a discount store for apparel, shoes, bags and household decor, despite the fact that COVID-19 still lingers in our community – with 11 cases counted one recent night and the more recent case of a traveler.
Others, who preferred to stay home, have been left shaking their heads. Why risk your family's health shopping for nonessential items?
Another issue that this large group of shoppers has brought to light is the different lenses our government decision-makers use when faced with certain challenges.
Our governor has approved the reopening of retail stores that are nonessential. President Trump has urged the reopening of churches.
However, one group in the island community is still being denied their chance to mark one of life's bigger milestones. Members of the graduating class of 2020 have been unable to commemorate their transition to the beginning of a career, college or both. Their cause could use someone to advocate on their behalf.
The Guam Education Board, Superintendent Jon Fernandez and the governor should talk to each other and figure out a way to allow our graduates to safely receive their diplomas in a graduation ceremony that follows social-distancing guidelines.
There are ways to hold graduation ceremonies that will be much safer than allowing open season for retail shopping. Graduations can be held on school grounds. Holding an outdoor ceremony will allow for the proper spacing of graduates. Holding it outdoors can also reduce the risk of transmission. The ceremony can be held as the sun is setting so the graduates won't bake in the heat. Space permitting, the crowd can be limited to one parent or one guardian, while the ceremony is livestreamed for other family members and loved ones to watch from the safety of their homes.
Colleges in the U.S. mainland have allowed graduations to take place in light of COVID-19. One way they did it was to hold the ceremony outdoors, as graduates received their diplomas and families watched remotely from home.
It's a win for the graduates. It's better than no ceremony at all.
Public high school graduations on Guam are typically held in June, so there is time to pull off making this moment happen for our seniors. This can be done in a controlled and safe way – much safer than allowing people to rush to go shopping or congregate in churches.
Seniors have earned their moment to mark the completion of high school or college through a proper ceremony.
That milestone, that moment – more momentous than buying knickknacks – is definitely worth the consideration and time from our public officials.