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  • Writer's pictureBy Alex J. Rhowuniong

FSM parents choose home learning for their children despite mixed feelings about internet

Chuukese families will protect their own at any cost. They will gather, even from afar, to help and support each other in times of need. They’ve always been that kind of people. The same is true also for rest of the citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia.

So this challenging upcoming school year and the student learning options given them by the Guam Department of Education will prove that family always trumps anything else for the people of FSM.

One of the latest innovations for our public school educators and parents on Guam this school year is the newest schedule options for students.

The Guam Department of Education has given parents three enrollment choices for their children.

* Home learning with full online instructions

* Home learning with hard paper copies of lessons for families without computers and 100 percent online access; and

* Traditional face-to-face classrooms instructions with alternating schedules

I found out that some parents have registered their children under option No. 2. because it’s ideal for their families. While some may have computers, others cannot afford to buy one. Their stimulus checks or unemployment benefits are still “money in words only.”

“My husband and I don’t want our children to be in the classroom because of Covid-19,” said Edwina Y. Mario, from Chuuk living now in Sinajana.

Mario said C.L. Taitano Elementary called the first week of July to discuss the options GDOE was offering to parents. They have chosen to have packets delivered and later be picked up for their children. “We don’t have computers, and we don’t want our children in the classrooms,” she said simply.

The 33-year-old mother of five — Sander, 13, an Agueda Johnston MS eight grader; Taylor, 10; Sara, 7; and Sharleen, 5— said her children are just itching to go back to the classroom setting. But she had to keep telling them what she and her husband, Sanny Mario, were concerned about family safety. “We don’t want to catch the virus in our family,” she added.


Akino Soumetaw and his wife, Sindina Soumetaw, also from Chuuk living in Yigo, picked the same option for the same reason.

“I don’t want any face-to-face interaction for my kids,” said Soumetaw. “Not right now, anyway. And I don’t want any of them bringing this disease home to our family either.”

The 46-year-old father has laptops for his children, but two things prevented him from allowing his children to use them: 1) No internet access, and 2) if they obtain service, he fears his children will be exposed to the unpleasant aspects of the internet.

Soumetaw, who works as banana-boat captain at the Agana Boat basin, acknowledged the value of the good content on the internet. But as a self-confessed “computer illiterate,” he does not trust his ability to prevent his children from exposing themselves to cyberbullying, illicit materials and others.

The Soumetaws have four children: Aron, 14, Simon Sanchez freshman; Akira 11, fifth grader at Daniel L. Perez Elementary; Akiann, 8, second grader also at D.L. Perez; and Elijah, 2.

“Akira wants to go to the classroom setting and do face-to-face instruction,” Akino Soumetaw also said. “But I don’t want any virus in my family.”


Erinda and Isaiah Yatilman are Yapese parents living in Mangilao. They have five children: Ethen, 14, is a freshman at George Washington high; O’Neal will be a 6th grader at Agueda Johnston MS; Irinda, 9, is a student at Price Elem; Ira and Chloe are 3 years old and 4 months, respectively.

The Yatilmans opted to do online learning for their children. They have a laptop at home, which will be shared by all their children. They will take turns using it to study their lessons.

When asked why that option, the 32-year-old mother quickly said: “Ete noo werir virus.” [So they won’t catch the virus.]

Ethen Yatilman said he is ready to get back into the classrooms. His younger brother, O’Neal Yatilman, on the other hand was not so hot about the classrooms.

“Because,” O’Neal Yatilman said, “it’s going to be harder at Agueda, I think. This is my first time. And, I’m also afraid.”

Afraid of both Covid-19 and Agueda Johnston middle school, O’Neal Yatilman also said.

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