A few hours after an announcement was made that schools for military dependents are pulling out of off-campus athletics and other extra curricular activities due to concerns over the novel coronavirus, Guam High School posted on its Facebook page this afternoon: "All events are back on."
It's unclear if this change only affects Guam High or all schools for military dependents on Guam.
The Guam Daily Post reported earlier today:
The Department of Defense Education Activity on Thursday pulled out its students' participation from off-campus extra-curricular activities including athletics, clubs, and student organizations, stated Guam High School Principal Jason Sheedy on the school’s Facebook page.
The decision to withdraw was made as a precaution in light of the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus or COVID-19 globally. Guam doesn't have a single confirmed case of the coronavirus but there is growing concern about its spread internationally.
In a letter from Sheedy, addressed to all DoDEA stakeholders, he stated, “Until further notice, due (to) the safety concerns of all our students, involving the Corona Virus (COVID-19) in DODEA, Guam schools we will be postponing all outside of school extra-curricular activities...We will reevaluate on a week-by-week basis."
The Guam Daily Post contacted Sheedy, but he deferred questions to Gail Wiley, DoDEA community superintendent. The Post attempted to contact Wiley but, as of press time, was unsuccessful.
Championship bid on hold
The ban, effective immediately, terminated the Panthers softball team’s Interscholastic Sports Association championship bid. Guam High, on Thursday, was supposed to play the Southern High School Dolphins in a winner’s bracket showdown. Southern High was scheduled to host the game.
“We were really excited to play the Panthers,” said Dolphins head coach Jessilyn Balajadia, initially not knowing why the game was canceled.
The last time the two teams met, by 2 points, the Dolphins edged the Panthers and were looking forward to the rematch.
“We were behind the whole game,” Balajadia recalled, “We were looking forward to it. … It’s a bummer, but, we have to move on and prepare for the next game.”
Terry Debold, the president of the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam, a participating member of the Guam Department of Education Interscholastic Athletic Association softball, confirmed Guam High’s withdrawal.
At first, Debold was disappointed.
“I have spoken to Guam High, more out of being disheartened for the kids,” Debold said. “Today was supposed to be the girls' playoffs, for softball. …” he added.
“Can you imagine these girls, suddenly, today, this morning, they’re told ‘Oh no, you can’t play your playoff,’” Debold said.
Debold said, he spoke with a Guam High official who informed him that the decision to pull out was for the safety of Guam’s kids.
“They just had a team in Korea, their basketball, their team got canceled, they just got back,” said Debold, recalling a conversation he had with an unnamed Guam High official. “They have a team in Japan that’s on its way back.
“They’ve had kids traveling throughout Asia, and … they’re coming from these high-risk areas,” Debold said.
The World Health Organization, on its website, states Korea has 1,261 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 12 total deaths.
Japan has 164 confirmed cases and one death.
“Guam High is trying to do its job to protect our community,” Debold said. “Right now, we are designated as virus-free.”
Pacific District guidance
Jim Journey, superintendent of DoDEA Pacific South District Office, informed the Guam High via a message that states in part:
“In association with the government of Japan, Pacific U.S. military commanders, and the DoDEA Pacific Region, the following guidance is given:
Student Travel: Large group off-island student travel will be canceled. All on-island study trips and excursions must be approved in advance of the event.
On-base gatherings and events will also be approved on a case-by-case basis. Parent and student concerns on travel must be taken into consideration for all events. The District Superintendent will have the authority to approve or disapprove all student travel within the district. Superintendents will base their decision on local military and host-nation travel guidance, and CDC guidance.”