After having seen nearly a month of very low COVID-19 cases – on average one or two a day – Guam over the past few days has seen a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
On Monday, the Joint Information Center confirmed nine cases. The next day, there were seven COVID cases.
The good thing is Guam's rate of people who tested positive has stayed around 1.6%. Out of 22,548 COVID tests on Guam, 375 have tested positive as of Tuesday.
But things have changed over the past few days. The number of COVID cases has increased again.
When the Guam Department of Education and some of our private schools made the decision to set the reopening of physical campuses, Guam was experiencing a lull in COVID cases.
We ask school administrators across the island to assess whether they are still confident our students, teachers and school staff will be safe when they return to school during the scheduled reopening dates a week to two weeks from now.
We're not telling the administrators to reverse course on their established reopening dates. We're asking for a re-evaluation if they feel the dates they've set should stick, given the changed environment over the past few days. They said bring in health experts in their discussions.
GDOE, private school and charter school administrators must be fluid.
Just because dates have been established doesn't mean they can't be delayed or temporarily shifted to online-only learning for now.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated, "It is important to consider the full spectrum of benefits and risks of both in-person and virtual learning options."
The CDC contends that when children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms. The CDC later added, "Death rates among school-aged children are much lower than among adults."
But the goal isn't to keep death rates low. The goal should be to avoid putting schoolchildren at greater risk by going to school.
Keeping school-aged children cooped up at home also causes harm, according to the CDC, to the children's social, emotional and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement. Further, the lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities, the CDC adds.
The bottom line is, in light of the new COVID numbers, can we open physical campuses safely?
If administrators are having doubts, they should say so.
Parents should be listened to, too.