Hawaii public schools to use a mix of approaches in new year

HONOLULU — Public schools in Hawaii are expected to offer a combination of on-campus and online education models mixing schedules and student body sizes to reduce health threats from the coronavirus pandemic.

Principals across the state consulted with staff and community members to select learning models from the state Department of Education’s reopening plan, which was announced earlier this month for the school year scheduled to begin Aug. 4.

Families can learn about schedules and what to expect directly from their schools or on the education department’s website.

About 14% of Hawaii’s elementary schools chose full-time, face-to-face instruction, with the remainder choosing a combination of models.

Options include a blended rotation, meaning one group of students attends in-person classes while another group participates in distance learning. A hybrid model will have lower elementary and vulnerable students use daily, in-person instruction, while upper elementary students are placed in a blended rotation.

Middle schools chose from a two-day rotation combining face-to-face learning with online instruction, with groups of students reporting to school twice each week. The schools also had the option of combination rotation learning, which is similar to the two-day model with schools determining the number of days students report to campus.

Hawaii’s high schools chose between face-to-face and two-day rotation models and a hybrid model, which calls for some students to be on campus for in-person instruction while others participate in distance learning.

The most vulnerable high school students will be on campus daily.

Radford High School, near Pearl Harbor, chose the blended approach, splitting its 1,200 students into two teams. By dividing the student body by last name, rather than grade level, families with children of different ages will be on the same schedule.

“We figured having around 600 kids on any given day would give us an opportunity to socially distance, minimize exposure and spread the kids out in the classroom appropriately,” Principal James Sunday said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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