GDOE student athletes urged to participate in forum

DRIVING THROUGH: The John F. Kennedy High School Islanders' Mark Fontanilla hits a forehand against JFK's Abraham Kim during the Islandwide Tennis Tournament semifinal singles match in March at JFK. Fontanilla defeated Kim 8-0. This was one of the last matches played in interscholastic sports. Matt Weiss/The Guam Daily Post 

For middle and high school student athletes who’ve been wondering when you can return to the courts and fields, a forum tomorrow might answer some of your questions.

The Guam Department of Education Interscholastic Sports Association is holding two virtual forums to brief coaches and athletes on the preliminary plans and discussions regarding interscholastic sports competition this school year.

Interested participants have to register for the forum, which will be held online using Zoom. The forums will be for:

• Coaches: 3 p.m. Nov. 12

• GDOE student athletes: 4:30 p.m. Nov. 12

Schools and interscholastic sports activities were shut down last school year with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been over seven months since many of these student-athletes have gotten into contact with their athletic directors and coaches, so we wanted to get back into communication with them and give them some guidance,” ISA League Director Al Garrido said in a recent press release.

He said GDOE’s Return to Play committees have been planning in preparation for a possible start of sports.

Guam remains in a Pandemic Condition of Readiness 1, though with relaxed restrictions compared to the earlier months of the pandemic, sports at various academic and community levels aren’t allowed.

The U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, during a recent conference with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said Guam is on the list for a vaccine, which should be ready by the end of the year.

GDOE is preparing for the possibility of resuming face-to-face instruction on campus and with it the resumption of interscholastic sports.

The Implementation Team for Sports committee was created and tasked to review possible return to play guidelines that would align with any potential start of GDOE face-to-face classes in January, according to the press release. It adds the caveat that no final decision has been made and any opening would be dependent on the island’s health situation, with safety being a top priority.

GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said they’re concerned that the motivation of student-athletes is waning as months go by without an athletics program.

“We want to give these students opportunities to get back into shape and to prepare for future competitions,” he stated in the press release.

The ISA committee is currently focused on high school competition and is reviewing sports that are considered lower risk, such as cross country, volleyball and tennis.

Meanwhile, most of the medium- to high-risk sports will likely be pushed back to later in the year.

Middle school student-athletes also will not be left behind.

The GDOE also is exploring options with middle school athletic director Kirk Spindel and plans to have middle schools follow suit once high school sports determinations are finalized.

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