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When students at military-run elementary and secondary schools on Guam recently returned to school after their holiday break, they did so in a sea of khaki, white and blue.

This month, a uniform policy became mandatory for students of Guam’s Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools.

So far, compliance has been nearly 100 percent, according to Michael Diekmann, superintendent for the district.

“We have 2,400 students,” Diekmann said last week. “We had less than 25 who didn’t have uniforms” on Jan. 7, the first day the outfits were required.

The district went to uniforms to reduce the amount of time schools’ principals spent judging hemlines and baggy waistbands on a few students each day.

A committee of students and adults worked on the project during the past school year, with the teachers and parents working with vendors and the students designing the uniform, Diekmann said.

Diekmann said it was too early to tell whether the policy had any effect on classroom behavior or learning. He said most feedback from teachers and students has been good, and that the staff is spending far less time talking with kids about what they’re wearing.

Officials at school districts in Japan, Okinawa and South Korea said they were aware of Guam’s policy, but no other schools are considering a similar policy.

The four schools on Guam launched the policy at the start of the school year, though it remained optional through the fall to allow families to buy the clothing.

Phasing in the policy also allowed families with orders to move to avoid investing in an outfit they might not need at their next duty station, Diekmann said. That accounted for most of the 25 kids who didn’t wear uniforms last week, he said.

The uniform includes a mix of khaki bottoms and white or navy blue tops. Components are available on and off base. They cost about $20 to $30 a set.

At Guam, families can request to opt out of the school uniform policy for financial or philosophic reasons, Diekmann said. No one has made request for exemption as of last week, he said.

All other schools on Guam, public and private, have school uniforms, Diekmann said.


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