A recent survey of more than 1,000 of Guam's high school students shows teens are worried about the potential spread of COVID-19 during in-person learning. Also, not all students disagree with the requirement placed on schools to test 10% of their student population every other week.

The survey showed 87.1% of the students prefer in-person learning, while 12.9% favored the online model.

The results were shared during a Sept. 23 meeting with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and the 22 members of the Governor's Youth Advisory Council. Members of the council, representing various island schools, participate in quarterly meetings with the governor and update her with the concerns of Guam's youth and the challenges they face.

"I believe the ultimate goal of the council is to go above and beyond by representing the voice of Guam's youth," YAC Chair Cheyunne Ahn said after the meeting. "As new issues constantly arise, we are encouraging our peers to be involved as well."

Among the concerns raised was the return to classrooms. Ahn said that, in addition to dividing students into groups and having them attend alternating school days, suggestions included alternating lunch periods to further promote social distancing.

Vaccination and testing

The survey approached 1,350 students in grades nine through 12 from three public and six private high schools about Executive Order No. 2021-21, or the suspension of classroom instruction. There were 998 responses from public high schools and 352 from private high schools.

Even among those students who said they prefer in-person learning, many were concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in schools – 95.2% of students said they were worried.

Regarding students' willingness to get vaccinated to return to classrooms, 86.6% were willing and 13.4% were not. Among those weren't, 58.4% agreed to the idea of being tested weekly, with 41.6% not in favor.

Teens also discussed how realistic it is to have online classes due to problems including unreliable internet connections.

The meeting also raised concerns with academics, extracurriculars and mental health, as the majority of respondents expressed some level of concern regarding these matters.

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