GDOE provides more details about summer school

FERNANDEZ: Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez visits Simon Sanchez High School to welcome students during the first day of face-to-face classes, on Tuesday, Jan. 19, in Yigo. GDOE is preparing to offer summer school. Post file photo.

Summer school registration for the Guam Department of Education will begin this week.

In anticipation of the official registration for summer school, several schools have begun printing and distributing applications to their students, said GDOE officials. Parents who are interested in enrolling their children can call the schools for more information. May 7 is the last day to register. The first day of summer school is June 7. 

GDOE has laid out a robust summer school program to make up instructional hours lost during the pandemic. GDOE is required to provide students with 900 hours of instructional time, according to a law passed just as COVID-19 pandemic struck the island. 

Officials said the summer school program will encompass a 20-hour weekly instructional schedule.

Last week, GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said the department was leaning towards offering a single session with longer hours, with students released from school no later than 1 p.m.

"All the schools chose Monday through Thursday five hours, so it's going to be every day from Monday to Thursday," said Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Joe Sanchez last week.

Public, private, and charter school students are welcome to enroll in either face-to-face instruction or online learning.

"We are encouraging all hard-copy students, especially if you are going to be transitioning online or going to school face-to-face, as well as all students (to register). We are really opening it up to all students," said Sanchez.

Summer school for elementary and middle school will focus on remediation and enrichment, said Sanchez. High Schools however, are focused on credit recovery.

Sanchez said summer school would allow students to make up lost instructional time and prepare them for an easier transition into the next school year.

900 instructional hours 

Senators of the 35th Guam Legislature, on March 11, 2020, passed Bill 232-35, which redefined the instructional time required of public schools by the Every Child is Entitled to an Adequate Education Act. Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero signed the bill into Public Law 35-77 on March 20, 2020.  

The new law changes the 180 instructional days for public schools to 900 hours. It also requires the superintendent to create standard operating procedures for making up the loss of instructional time.

The legislation was created in acknowledgement of the loss of classroom time due to storms or other issues. From 2019 to 2020, a few schools had lost several days of instruction because of the threat of dengue fever. More recently, a lack of water service has either closed down a few schools for a day or forced classes to end sooner than scheduled.  

Electronic support

For students who will be transitioning to the online platform and need assistance, Sanchez said, "we continue to distribute laptops. All they need to do is apply for a laptop, and if they need laptops, schools have been instructed to allow them to keep them over the summer if they are attending summer school."

GDOE will distribute approximately 8,000 devices to students enrolled in online learning and face-to-face student use on campus.

"They can register or apply at schools; once they get approved, they will take that document to the vendor. Our vendor has been announced it is IT&E. They will be setting up sections in all different villages so parents can obtain the devices," said Sanchez.

To clarify, Sanchez said online support is not only for online students. However, they are the priority; Sanchez said face-to-face students who need laptops or online internet access at home would also be supported.

Last week, the Guam Education Board addressed summer school staffing as it pertains to teachers and coordinators.

The number of teachers the department must hire is dependent on how many students register for summer school.

"We believe we have all the resources to be able to support an expanded number of students and be able to pay the teachers a rate that's attractive to them to work over the summer," said Fernandez.

According to Sanchez, teachers will be paid on a federally funded stipend. Some schools have identified teachers willing to work over the summer.

Busing will be provided. It's typically funded by GDOE's budget. This year the governor will use education money provided to her to pay for transportation.

Fernandez said it's essential for GDOE to nail down the numbers so the department can begin to work on additional activities for students.

"In addition to that, we want to do some outreach to our Mayors and nonprofit organizations to help us with the after hours. So I think at the end of the day, summer school won't go past 1 pm," said Fernandez.

Fernandez said this allows GDOE to partner with mayors and other organizations to provide after-hour activities. GDOE will work with the Governor's office on outreach for the programmed activities.

"Whether it be recreational, whether it be additional academic tutoring, whether it be socio-emotional training, health-focused curriculum whatever it is, we think there are a lot of opportunities to build around a Summer School program," said Fernandez.

The goal is to get students back in the classroom, engaged, and active before the next school year.

GDOE is expected to provide more information on the summer school program soon. 

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