Hawaii teachers union names schools with virus cases

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s teachers union said Tuesday that it has learned of nine campuses with recent coronavirus cases and that state officials need to publicize them as instruction is set to begin in less than a week.

The union learned of the cases from teachers, Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee said.

“And these were only the schools that HSTA has confirmed so far,” he said. “Are there other schools with active cases?”

It’s also not known how many school staff members are in quarantine, Rosenlee said.

State health and education officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the union’s announcement.

Teachers returned to work July 29, and the first day of instruction is scheduled for Monday. The union led an effort to delay the Aug. 4 start of the school year by two weeks. Teachers are worried that schools are not prepared to welcome students back safely, the union said.

“The Department of Education has shown that it is not transparent. The Department of Health has shown it is not prepared,” Rosenlee said. “Yet the state is still fixated on bringing students back on Monday.”

Gov. David Ige last week said public schools on the island Oahu would start the first four weeks online. The union asked that schools in the rest of the state also begin virtually.

On Tuesday, the state Department of Education announced that schools on Kauai, the Big Island and Maui County will also begin with distance learning. However, schools on Molokai will implement face-to-face and blended learning as previously planned for the first quarter. Hana High and Elementary School will begin with face-to-face learning for grades kindergarten through fifth and a hybrid model for upper grades.

Rosenlee said since last Thursday, there were reported cases at Campbell High, Hilo Intermediate, Kapolei Middle, Moanalua Intermediate and Moanalua High.

The previous week, there were reports of educators quarantining because of confirmed cases Iliahi Elementary, Kaala Elementary, Leilehua High and Waialae Public Charter School, he said.

Teachers were notified but parents were not told, the union said.

However, a July 31 letter to Waialae families said the school had been informed of a confirmed COVID-19 case “involving an individual in our school community.”

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This story has been corrected to say teachers began work July 29, not July 27.

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