• By Dusan Goljic

How Covid-19 has affected education in Guam

Recently, like most parts of the world, Guam has also been battling an unseen force. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an air of worry and uncertainty for people all over the world. In a rare event that will go down in history, a worldwide imposed lockdown has caused all regular activities to be halted, and citizens are urged to stay at home.

Since the unexpected lockdown, many of us were forced to improvise, including schools in Guam whose 30,000 public school students were just about to start their school year.

Instead, they joined the 300 million children being homeschooled worldwide.

Thankfully for students in Guam, the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) stepped up in providing an online solution so that elementary, middle, and high school students can continue their learning processes online. And thankfully for the internet, students all over the world can continue their classes online. The GDOE has introduced a learning site, with the main intention to guide parents to take charge and lead their children’s learning at home.

The site was launched on April 6, with weekly updates for instructions for parents of elementary, middle, and high school students. Parents and students can also leave feedback for teachers. According to the GDOE, students can select sites that focus on their specific grade levels for subjects including English and Math, as well as coding and art.

And according to GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez, distance learning will not be graded. It is merely some academic exercises to keep students’ brains sharp and functioning during the lockdown.

Nevertheless, the GDOE also recognizes that not all students have internet access at home, especially in low-income households.
Based on the CIA World Factbook, only 77 percent of Guam’s population has internet as of 2019. For these students, hard copies of academic material are available for either pickup or delivery.
On top of this, the GDOE has also successfully worked with The Public Broadcasting Service in Guam to air a program called PBS University. The program aims to deliver enrichment courses to students. It consists of a selected teacher rotating every 30 minutes to deliver lessons of different grade levels including kindergarten, first graders, middle, and high school students.

While teachers are doing their very best to ensure course materials are delivered through other resources, it is also up to the students themselves to be self-discipline and keep track of their classes and homework. Parents also play a crucial role in ensuring that their children take this advantage for keeping their brains sharp and working rather than loitering and doing nothing at home all day.

With hopes of reopening certain sectors by July, the number of positive Covid-19 cases are still being recorded daily. Therefore, there is currently still no plan in sight to reopen all public and private schools except a selected few with strict SOP guidelines. And as we try to slowly move past the pandemic, we must also be accustomed to a new way of living and ensure we all do our part in ending the spread of this deadly disease once and for all.

Dusan Goljic is the project manager at HealthCareers.

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