Guam high school students wear face masks and maintain a safe distance in the classroom. U.S. Navy photo by Shaina O'Neal Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools on Guam resumed in-classroom instruction, Oct. 26, with strict health protection guidelines in place for students, faculty and staff. "Protecting the health and safety of our service members, civilian personnel, and their families is one of our highest priorities," Rear Adm. John Menoni, Joint Region Marianas commander, said. "The team has taken deliberate steps and every foreseeable precaution to mitigate risks of Covid-19. This will be an ongoing commitment and effort to ensure we are taking care of one another as we safely return to the classrooms." Before returning to brick and mortar school, DoDEA staff and military leadership conducted a Covid-19 tabletop exercise on Oct. 1. During the exercise, DoDEA personnel and military partners practiced response actions in various scenarios, which helped to develop and evaluate plans to minimize Covid-19 risks.
As a result, mitigation measures that were put in place include, pre-screening protocols, which are completed at home each morning before students depart for school; changes in entry, exit and hallway traffic patterns; bathroom occupancy guidelines; personal and portable plastic barriers for every student and teacher; hand sanitizer stations, and requirements for face coverings, social distancing and good personal hygiene.
Jason Sheedy, Guam High School principal, said while the first week of school went well, they will continue to reflect, review and adjust accordingly. "We understand that our parents trust us with the safety of their children every day, and we value the confidence and support our families have shown us. Making the school environment safer for both the children and the adults is our main goal."
Gail Wiley, DoDEA Guam community superintendent, said they are increasing communication about the importance of safe social distancing and protective procedures with students who are excited to be reunited with their peers and teachers.
"The men and women of the military are charged with protecting our country and way of life, and it is critical that we support the mission by maintaining safe and healthy environments in which their children, our military-connected students, can learn, grow, and succeed," she said. (Joint Region Marianas)