DPW: No discussion on all students returning to school five days a week; shortage of bus drivers could mean delays for students

SCHOOL BUS: Department of Public Works school bus driver Anthony Santos stands in front of his bus on Sept. 2 in Harmon. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

The Guam Education Board has voted for public school students to return to five days a week of in-person learning starting Nov. 29.

The board on Tuesday evening approved resolution 2021-12, which would authorize the return to five days a week of face-to-face instruction.

GEB member and Health and Safety Committee Chair Maria Gutierrez authored the resolution. She said students needed to go back to school. Through the resolution, she pushed for all schools to open on Monday, Nov. 29.

The timing of the return just a few weeks before Christmas break was questioned by some of the board members.

GDOE had planned for high school students to return to in-person classes full-time on Dec. 1, while middle school and elementary school students would return on Jan. 3.

Guam Federation of Teachers president Tim Fedenko asserted that the union opposed the Dec. 1 date, further indicating that the union was not consulted on the details of the resolution.

Before the board vote, he called for the timeline to be delayed until after Christmas break to allow elementary school students who only recently became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to become fully vaccinated.  

Fedenko pointed out that the holiday season brings family gatherings, which could potentially result in a spike in COVID-19 cases.

GEB member and Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares said a phased-in return could present challenges for families who rely on their high school students to care for and monitor younger siblings while parents are at work, she said.

GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez and other officials have noted concerns that students are falling behind. Public school students haven't had a full year of learning since the 2019-2020 school year. 

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