The Guam Department of Education and other education institutions are waiting to hear whether the governor will authorize the opening of schools as soon as next month.

GDOE has set Jan. 19, 2021, as the beginning of in-person classes, assuming the authorization is given. Students attending those classes will do so in cohorts, to limit the number of students on campus on a given day. GDOE also will adhere to a number of safety and social distancing precautions in schools.

Catholic schools also will have to deal with a number of issues once they can reopen for in-person classes, according to Juan Flores, superintendent of Catholic education for the Archdiocese of Agana.

These issues include ensuring there is effective communication with parents and enough hand-washing stations at the schools, and that schools will be sanitized regularly, especially restrooms, hallways, cafeterias and other places where a large number of students may be present, Flores said.

Catholic schools must provide personal protective equipment to their staff, although it has already been procured by GDOE as part of the Education Stabilization Funding afforded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act.

Catholic schools also will have to procure enough supplies for isolation rooms to last through the second semester and ensure they are prepared to address anyone infected by the virus that causes COVID-19, including following protocols established by the archdiocese, Flores said. Schools also must develop alternatives to in-person instruction for students who don't want to attend school physically, he said.

UOG and GCC

The next semester will be a little simpler for the University of Guam. Jonas Macapinlac, chief marketing and communications officer at UOG, said classes will be online next semester and at this time, there are no plans to fully reopen the campus.

"Depending on the status of the island, parts of the campus may reopen," he said. "However, details have not been finalized."

Guam Community College, on the other hand, will offer some in-person instruction once restrictions are lifted, according to John Dela Rosa, assistant director of communications and promotions at GCC.

GCC submitted a reopening plan in August and that remains its guide for returning to campus, Dela Rosa said.

"GCC will update the plan once final guidance is provided by (the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services) for on-campus instruction in spring 2021," he said.

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