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Back Local News GDOE responds to Southern High bell schedule issues

GDOE responds to Southern High bell schedule issues

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DESPITE minor issues with the implementation of a new bell schedule for Southern High yesterday, Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez said the first day "went relatively smoothly."

Yesterday morning, some students arrived at their respective bus stops earlier than the pickup schedule and had to wait longer before their school buses arrived.

"That was the result of misinformation being circulated. The Department of Public Works has assured us that the earliest pickup times will be 5:30 a.m. for most villages and 6 a.m. for the villages closest to Southern High School," Fernandez informed Variety.

DPW has confirmed that students in Yoña, Talofofo, Inarajan, Merizo, Umatac, Piti and Nimitz will be picked up beginning at 5:30 a.m. For Agat and Santa Rita, pickup will begin at 6 a.m.

According to Fernandez, students are not required to get to their designated bus stops much earlier than the announced pickup schedule.

Despite minor snafus yesterday, Fernandez reported that students arrived at SHS at 6:55 a.m. and were dismissed at 1:20 p.m.

"I was at the school this morning. Students were positive. So were administrators and teachers. Attendance was high and the bus operations went smoothly. We have not received much negative parent feedback at this juncture," Fernandez said.

GDOE also monitored the elementary and middle school buses and the superintendent reported that things went smoothly.

On time

"I am glad to report that students are getting to school on time with an opportunity to eat before class, and our youngest students are no longer coming home long after school ends, which was the case with the old schedule," he said.

SHS adopted the new bell schedule – classes running from 6:50 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. – yesterday to address transportation issues affecting all schools.

Classes at the Santa Rita campus used to run from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. But because of the distance between the school and the villages that are also serviced by the same school buses, GDOE explained that elementary and middle school students were being negatively affected.

Parent input

Fernandez said the discussions about a new bell schedule took place over the past two months even though the final decision was made last Wednesday.

He stressed that the new bell schedule is the result of parent suggestions and concerns.

The outreach to parents was handled mostly at the school level, with the Parent Teacher Organization helping to facilitate a parent survey as well as several meetings to which DPW, GDOE and Southern High School stakeholders were invited.

"The idea for a bell schedule change did not originate with the folks at the central office," Fernandez said. "Instead, it emerged from the longstanding concerns and suggestions of our parents in the south. I just thought it was time to act, and even if we have to iron out a few wrinkles for a couple of days, I am glad we can say that we are moving forward."

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