By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) Guam Public School Superintendent Jon Fernandez was not being truthful when he told Kandit News that the reason all public school children and their parents are being kept in the dark about the Dengue emergency is because he can’t speak about these issues. Mr. Fernandez claims that all information has to come from the Joint Information Center. Not only is that untrue, but it’s a violation of his own adopted emergency plans.
Guam DOE's Standard Operating Procedure for their Emergency Response Plan - SOP #1300-002 Emergency Response Plan - adopted and approved by the Board and mandated to be followed requires GDOE to inform the public (parents) of information as soon as it is available. The School's Emergency Response Plan notes how critical it is for information to be given out in an accurate and timely manner during emergencies such as a State of Emergency declared last week by the governor. The Emergency Response Plan further mandates that GDOE translate all information since English is not the first language for some students and parents.
Instead GDOE has been silent. Intentionally withholding information from students and parents. Not one single piece of paper or message from the superintendent has gone out to advise parents about the Dengue situation. Despite Patient Zero being a middle school student at Agueda Johnston and despite two schools having to be closed for two days of spraying.
Kandit news has received a message given yesterday to all principals from a deputy superintendent - telling them they should encourage parents to allow their children to wear long sleeved shirts and long pants to school even if it violates the uniform policy because of the Dengue Emergency. None of that information was given to the students to give to their parents. Why? Because Mr. Fernandez refuses to say anything to the parents, students or even his school board members unless it is released by the Governor's Joint Information Center at Homeland Security.
Message sent by GDOE Central yesterday to all school principals that Jon Fernandez has prohibited from being distributed to all parents via their children:
“Hafa Adai, as we work through the dengue fever outbreak, please be mindful that one of the prevention measures from the CDC is to wear light colored long sleeve shirts and long pants. I know that many of you have long pants as part of your uniform, but for those that don't, please allow. Also, for the long sleeve shirts, again, I am not asking for you to disregard your uniform policy, but to allow the long sleeves such as jackets and sweat shirts to be worn. Parents may not have what you believe is appropriate, but in this time of emergency, do allow what they have. We are in a 6 week watch at this point. We have sprayed insecticide at OCP and AIJMS on Sunday and Monday. Additionally, there is a 2nd reported case in Dededo. I am seeking your humanitarian support during this time by allowing students to wear long sleeves and long pants for at least the next 3 weeks. Let's be understanding and caring in this time of uncertainty and heightened anxiety. We can reassess after 3 weeks and revert back to our policies and procedures if our emergency situation has improved. Thank you for your support and efforts.”
Mr. Fernandez and his public information officer, Isa Baza, have been busy this week celebrating birthdays and not doing the jobs they were hired to do - protect the students and keep parents informed of all matters relating to the education, health and welfare of their children.
Ms. Baza’s main duties are to provide information to the students and their parents. Mr. Fernandez is tasked by law to keep our children safe. You do that by informing them of the situations ongoing at the schools and any danger that may be facing the students. Mr. Fernandez has failed our children and their parents and has now opened up himself and every school board member to be sued in their personal capacities for violating the Every Child Is Entitled to an Adequate Education Act as well as other federal laws that are in place. But more importantly, Mr. Fernandez’s willful violation of their own SOPs and his actual duties he is being paid to do by the tax payers is placing the lives of every single public school student in jeopardy.