Despite COVID-19 spreading through the community in record numbers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranking Guam the riskiest place in the nation for the disease, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero issued Executive Order 2021-23 on Thursday, allowing schools to reopen and interscholastic sports to resume as early as Monday.
“Effective September 20, 2021, interscholastic athletics are authorized to resume training and competition, subject to applicable (Department of Public Health and Social Services) guidance," Leon Guerrero declared in the executive order.
The executive order paves the way for both the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam and the Guam Department of Education Interscholastic Sports Association to continue their first trimester and first quarter seasons, respectively, which have been placed on hold since Aug. 23.
On Aug. 20, Leon Guerrero had ordered K-12 schools to close and interscholastic sports to table seasons until the COVID-19 situation had become more favorable.
Last week, during a Guam Department of Education virtual meeting, Leon Guerrero told stakeholders that schools would remain closed.
“The schools have the largest, vulnerable population of unvaccinated population,” she said. “If we did not do anything to prevent the spread of the community into the schools, we will see more children, more younger children, getting positive.”
"We are in a very, very high-risk situation right now,” Leon Guerrero told GDOE stakeholders in last week’s meeting. “We are in an environment of complete community spread. It’s all over the community and you can see it in all the positive cases we are seeing.”
But despite community spread, the executive order also allows for spectators to attend sporting events. It also requires some student-athletes and coaches to be fully vaccinated.
“Effective October 18, 2021, all organized sports training and competitions must require coaches and participants sixteen (16) years plus one (1) month of age or older to show proof that they are vaccinated,” Leon Guerrero stated in the executive order. "In the event a coach or participant declines to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or provide proof of such vaccination, they will be required to test for COVID-19 once weekly, as provided is applicable DPHSS guidance.”
With social distancing, mask mandates and limits on social gathering still in effect, fans must adhere to DPHSS guidance.
“Spectators shall be allowed at interscholastic sporting events and competitions, subject to DPHSS guidance,” Leon Guerrero stated in the executive order.
Leon Guerrero, during the GDOE meeting, acknowledged that COVID-19 did not appear to be widespread in schools and “most of the positives in the staff and the children are coming from households.”
She also stated that schools were closed because “we did not want to have our community spread spread into the school environment.”