‘Return To Learn’ HDOE plans Aug. 4 reopening

HONOLULU — Public schools are set to reopen on Aug. 4 with a plan to blend distance learning and face-to-face instruction, the Hawai‘i Department of Education announced Thursday.

HIDOE officials have created three instruction models each for elementary, middle and high schools for the upcoming 2020-21 school year, which take into account COVID-19 and its associated health and safety guidelines. Details of each of those models are included in the HIDOE “Return to Learn: School Reopening Plan”.

In Thursday’s announcement of the plan, HIDOE officials confirmed a dedication to maintaining the standard 180 instructional days in the school year and a commitment to “high-quality learning and equity of access”.

“As we move forward to reopen schools on August 4 for the fall semester, we know that the delivery of instruction in Hawai’i, across the nation and globally is going to look very different,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said of the reopening plan. “Our HIDOE ‘ohana has been diligently working on plans for the new school year, growing from our experience navigating a global pandemic and applying lessons learned.”

The three basic instruction models laid out by the DOE: full time face-to-face instruction for all students, a mix of face-to-face and distance learning that rotates students through the campus, and a hybrid blend of the two that would offer full time face-to-face instruction for students who need it as well as online or distance learning.

Officials said each individual school is choosing which model will fit best with their student body and will be informing families about selected models on July 8.

Other steps to help ensure safety during the upcoming school year include strict enforcement of physical distancing and face mask rules — especially in school buses and other student gathering places and opening windows to ensure maximum ventilation whenever possible. Meals will be individually plated and distancing precautions will be used in cafeterias. Other options for mealtime include students eating in their classrooms or in designated outdoor areas.

Staff will also be frequently sanitizing high-touch surfaces and visually monitoring the health of employees, visitors and students.

Temperature checks aren’t part of the plan, according to Kishimoto.

“We will not be doing temperature checks but we will train teachers how to do visual checks, making sure they know what to look for,” said Kishimoto in a press conference, Thursday. HIDOE said they worked closely with public health officials to develop guidelines around health and safety measures for reopening.

HIDOE said all public schools are preparing for the possibility of future school closures by increasing device accessibility to students, building teacher capacity for virtual engagement with their students, and course offerings for credits towards graduation.

Hawai‘i State Teacher Association (HSTA) President Corey Rosenlee voiced concerns about the reopening plan Thursday, saying all parents should get the chance to select a learning option that fits their child’s needs. Rosenlee said HSTA has concerns about distancing protocols, too, including a three-foot distancing rule between desks that “will only ensure that Hawai‘i will have to close their schools again and go back to a 100 percent virtual model.”

As parents look to the Aug. 4 reopening, they express mixed feelings about sending their children back to school.

Shantelle Rego, a parent of a student attending Wilcox Elementary School, said she’s been feeling some of those mixed feelings, herself.

“Like many other parents and guardians of children who attend public school, although happy that my child will be going to school, what sits in my mind is how well will the kids adapt to this new way of doing school and being a germaphobe myself, I am a little nervous and hope that all students with the help of staff will be able to practice good sanitation and safety measures so we can all have a great start to the school year,” said Rego.

Rego said after reviewing the models that were presented she wants to be able to give her own feedback on the models, especially since the schools are choosing which model will be implemented.

“My only thought on that was could there have been a survey on what parents thought of the models?” said Rego “Every child doesn’t learn at the same pace or level so I cannot say one model would work better than the other.”

Rego said she admits that the distancing learning that her child has done towards the ending of this past school year drove her a “bit crazy” while she tried to figure out the new methods.

“I don’t have a definite answer as to what I would prefer to do with my child because I know he learns a lot at school – all the teachers my child has had impacted him and he has loved each one,” said Rego. “It takes a special person to step into the classroom and take students with all sorts of personalities and learning abilities.”

She continued: “At this time, I pray that the schools are doing their utmost best in making safety priority especially during this (pandemic).”

Community members can submit written testimony on the reopening plan to Testimony.BOE@BOE.Hawaii.gov.


Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Teacher! What about? July 3, 2020 3:32 am Reply

    While the overall virus picture shows after approximately 4 months a fairly clear patterns, in spite of the limited info to us from the media, almost like a gag order to keep us in the dark, we can still clearly see that for the most part those at high risk are those who are elderly with pré-.existing conditions, known to be the common chronic degenerative diseases (really end of life diseases) like heart and stroke diseases, obesity and diabetes, cancers, Alzheimer’s, and kidney, lung, and liver failures, all with known causes; but also accompanied with often large combinations of treatments with the end of life prescription drugs.

    We know with the elderly just who are at high risk for passing away while at the same time having been infected by the CoVid virus. Which is more accurate, to blame the virus only, or the pre-existing diseases, or the combination of both?

    But what about student age youth? If we do our due diligence of detective work, we can extrapolate from the elderly the pertinent information that puts them at High Risk, and visualize then who may be at high risk for students.

    Students with long term diseases, that is, those diseases that are well known by Pediatricians. Asthma comes to mind, and so do allergies, and even those students with early or primary stage chronic degenerative diseases, thus we can predict that students already with these pre-existing diseases who also eat lots of junk food, fast foods, sugar added foods, greasy foods, foods with lots of chemicals added, sodas, highly processed foods like pure white breads and pastries, and too many snacks and desserts, these students living in this scenario may well be students at high risk for serious complications if infected by the Covid virus.

    If these students are already being treated for illnesses known or not to be caused by these dietary deficiencies; and they are taking 1 or more prescription drugs or over the counter medications, it would be wise to monitor those children with extra precaution to prevent infection in them by the CoVid virus.

    Another serious, but little known malady, is even slight injuries to the neck that can cause what is called aberration, or slight disturbance of function to the Brain Stem, and / or spinal cord, resulting in a disability of function that otherwise causes normal function of the body; but instead results in abnormal or failure of function.

    Due to the wide range of functions regulated by the brain stem portion of the nervous system, a neck injury or other disturbance to the structural integrity of the neck, including alignment, of the bones of the neck, can disturb and cause full or partial failure of function to other body systems or the organs they interact with.

    This may include a partial failure of the immune system, and serious complications for student age youth, and their Healthy ability to be a No symptom, Mild symptom, or need only bed rest degree of severity of contagion with the Covid Virus.

    By this we mean that students via their diet life style, or nerve system disturbance or combination of both, could lead to serious flu illness or heavy symptoms from the CoVid virus, that otherwise in other students without these pre-existing conditions, would, with infection of the virus, allow the student with the Virus flu illness to pass unknown to them as a No symptom event.

    Keep an eye on your student for these pre-existing conditions, non nutritious diet, and or spinal conditions, and use of prescription drugs and/or over the counter medications.

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