By Pacific Island Times News Staff
With Covid-19 transmissions consistently decelerating, it is now safe for students to return to their classrooms but Guam remains under a public health emergency, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero announced today.
"Schools are to resume all operations and enforcement procedures for habitual truancy to the fullest extent available under Guam law," the governor said in a video message.
"Our schools are equipped with resources to ensure the health of our children is protected and have demonstrated their ability to keep students safe. It is time we encourage our children to participate fully in student life and its proven benefits to their mental and physical wellbeing," she added.
The governor today issued an executive order rescinding the suspension of the definition of "habitual truancy" under Guam law.
Under Guam law, "a pupil is a habitual truant if the pupil has incurred 12 or more unexcused absences in a school year, and is of compulsory attendance age."
" I previously suspended the definition of habitual truancy to allow time for our community to evaluate and resolve residual concerns regarding the safety of our schools during this public health emergency without subjecting our children to discipline for failure to attend school during the period of evaluation," the governor said.
The executive order also further eased restrictions on indoor gatherings, raising the crowd limit from 100 to 250 and allowing religious groups to continue services, ceremonies and operations effective immediately.
"This week we expect to hit another milestone in our road to recovery. Based on CDC guidance, Guam’s level of risk remains high, but thanks to our collective progress, our level will improve to the moderate risk category in the coming days," the governor said.
"As we continue to monitor our Covid-19 metrics, we will remain in a public health emergency," she added.
Guam has entered its second year under public health emergency.
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"Local medical experts and the latest data agree, Guam can continue to move forward with a cautious and gradual lifting of pandemic restrictions," the governor said.
"Slowly, but surely, we are returning to normalcy all while maintaining the necessary layers of protection for ourselves and those we love. We are evolving to create a future of new possibilities," she added."
Today, the Joint Information Center reported Guam's 340th Covid-19-related fatality, involving an 85-year-old who was pronounced dead on arrival at Guam Regional Medical City on March 19. The patient was fully vaccinated without a booster. She had underlying health conditions and tested positive on March 19.
The number of Covid-19 positive cases has declined over the weeks.
From March 19 to 21, the Department of Public Health and Social Services recorded 114 new cases out of 969 tests.
To date, there have been a total of 46,809 officially reported cases, 340 deaths, 1,213 cases in active isolation, and 45,256 not in active isolation.
"As we carefully exit the pandemic, our journey will be like a childhood walk to the store with our friends or cousins. The journey isn’t too long and the destination isn’t too far, especially when we are together," the governor said.
She urged residents to continue wearing masks, washing their hands, watching their distance, and to get vaccinated and boosted.