Kekaha parent petitions in-person learning

  • Contributed by Sheena Leigh Figueira Galbraith

    A photo found on Sheena Galbraith’s petition showing a student learning from home.

KEKAHA — As of last night, Kekaha parent Sheena Leigh Figueira Galbraith has received over 1,070 signatures on her online petition called “Governor: Let Kauai’s children go to school,” which she created over a week ago.

Galbraith has three kids: fourth-grader Avenue-Leighn and twin second-graders Presley-Lyric and Monroe-Lahbelle who all attending ‘Ele‘ele Elementary School as full-time distance learners.

“I went from seeing my children so excited and happy to be back at school, seeing their old friends, meeting their new teachers to seeing sadness, frustration, and just about complete lack of motivation towards school,” Galbraith said.

Galbraith’s goal with her petition is simple.

“My overall goal is to be able to have our children back in school either following the original ‘blending learning’ model of not full-time or maybe possibly come up with other learning models,” Galbraith said.

According to Galbraith, she has been reaching out to different people, and organizations to collect more information, and data to have the support and spread awareness.

“I’ve been pushing to get as many signatures as possible, and I’ll continue to push for more while working on other things before taking it further,” Galbraith said. “In hopes of presenting it to the Mayor himself.”

Another ‘Ele‘ele Elementary School parent, Whitney Yadao, signed the petition.

“Education for our growing children is essential,” Yadao said. “I feel it is important, especially now, for them to have some type of normalcy in such a strange and confusing time. I am confident that the public education system can adapt to a safe and comfortable learning environment for our children.”

Yadao added, “In addition, they (our children, our teachers, and staff) should be first-in-line to receive funding/resources to make this happen.”

Galbraith addresses parents that choose to keep their kids safe at home with empathy.

“We all have the right to decide what is right for our children. I would just like to be given an option for parents, teachers, and unions such as myself that would prefer our children be back in school, learning, and socializing safely face-to-face,” Galbraith said.

Galbraith said a lot of teachers that prefer face-to-face learning feel they’re being supported by her and the community.

“This petition is making noise throughout the state, and we’re not breaking rules or any laws doing so, and we’re fighting peacefully for something meaningful while staying safe,” Galbraith said.

As of today, the state has over 10,000 COVID-19 cases announced, with Kaua‘i at 58 counted cases with currently no active cases being reported.

Galbraith does have concerns about the possibility that her children might be exposed to the virus should they go back to in-person models.

“Of course I’m worried,” Galbraith said. “Two out of my three children are asthmatic. But, our state still remains open while we all practice social distancing, wearing masks, and having clean hygiene. Anyone of us could catch it at any given time or place.”

She continued: “We attempted one week of blended learning, private schools have been back in session for a month, and some schools are open for lower grades, and we haven’t had an outbreak.”

Meanwhile, “We are keeping our children cooped up all day in front of a computer while we wait for ‘what if,’” Galbraith added.

The shutdown of Hawai‘i’s schools was reactionary to what was happening on Oahu, and other islands, not Kaua‘i, Galbraith said.

“Department of Education and Hawai‘i State Teacher Association originally supported the blended learning model,” Galbraith said. “What’s changed that, and made them abandon that model, and move to 100% distance learning?”

Although there are some parents whose kid’s adapt to anything and are striving with distance learning, Galbraith shares her personal struggles in hopes to bring awareness.

“You’re the parent doing what you feel is right for your children,” Galbraith said. “For parents such as myself that need, and prefer our children back in school, we’d just like to be given options also. I’m not lucky to have the help of both of my parents. I lost my mother a few years back, and my father is still working.”

She continued: “My kids are either taught by me or their other grandma but there’s a language, and education barrier being she’s from Thailand.”

Galbraith said there are so many different circumstances in each household and in each family. A lot of children need schools for different reasons. Some counted solely on school meals, some used school as their escape from their harsh realities, and some counted on their teachers/counselors to talk and run to.

Kaua‘i Complex Area Superintendent Paul Zina understands that.

“We truly understand the hardships being felt by our parents and families during this distance learning period,” Zina said. “We will continue to monitor case counts with state and county health officials following the Labor Day weekend. Early school reopening to blended learning models on any island will also require support by teachers to be successful.”

But Galbraith continues to urges parents to sign the petition.

“I’ve said this many times…the ripple effects from kids not being in school face to face will be devastating to their futures,” Galbraith said.

Petition info: http://chng.it/xL462zzg

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

23 Comments
  1. Mike Revere September 10, 2020 6:41 am Reply

    CDC released audited numbers this week. Turns out only 9,600 people have died from COVID-19 in the USA. All other deaths were caused by other conditions. In audits around the country 90% of positive tests are false. This is an outright sham. We destroyed our economy and country for less then 10,000 people. More people will from suicide and starvation. Time to stop living in fear of a not so deadly virus. Wake up people , we can not live a whole year like this. Give us back our freedom. Open back up our country and islands. Masks do nothing but restrict our breathing. Impeach all these fear mongering politicians only concerned with saving their own images while destroying our constitutional rights . This is a hoax. End this quarantine, end this criminal mask mandate. Let kids go to school and live a normal life again.


    1. Mike n ikes September 10, 2020 10:36 pm Reply

      Looks like adults need to go back to school to if you cant make sense of the numbers the CDC released.
      Remember 9/11 when we ended up implementing all kinds of ridiculous “security” measures at the airport to supposedly stay safe? That was over 2,000 people dying. And yet I don’t see the “its only 200,000 dead crowd (you know the actual number)” complaining about cavity searches to get on planes. Maybe your just into that kind of thing? Are you that much of a baby that you can’t breath through a piece of cloth? Oh no not our freedom to breath so easily. Not the 33rd amendment Freedom of idiots to not wear masks! Anything but that!


    2. J.D. September 11, 2020 3:24 am Reply

      Last year 650,000 people died from the flu world wide. We did not shut down schools.
      So let me get this straight. All the projections have been wrong because all the assumptions have been wrong but we still can’t go outside because the people who were wrong said so. Is that right?


      1. D.A. September 13, 2020 5:34 am Reply

        Using worldwide numbers is disingenuous when applying them to specific localized policies. Cite appropriate numbers, please.


  2. Doctor Teach September 10, 2020 6:57 am Reply

    Please come do my job then. Seems like parents who never taught a class have all the answers. Maybe DO YOUR job and teach your kid until deemed safe for everyone. Maybe now that parents are trying to be more involved with teaching their children at home, they understand how hard it is to actually be a teacher. So again, since your an expert, come into my class and show me how to do my job. Thanks


    1. Reality Bites September 11, 2020 1:45 am Reply

      Ah, Professor, …”You’re” is the contraction of the words “you are”. “Your” is the possessive form of the pronoun “you”. I don’t think “you’re” an “expert” either with basic English. Thanks.


    2. Susan September 11, 2020 8:56 am Reply

      Um, your “job” currently consists of sitting around at home in your underwear and emailing out a few “assignments” to your students instructing them to swipe at an app all day long on an iPad. You are getting paid your full regular DOE salary (plus full benefits) to only do a fraction of your normal job responsibilities, while Kauai’s working parents are losing out on half of their household incomes (and benefits) to pick up YOUR slack. And just admit it: you are enjoying this HSTA-mandated paid staycation at home and don’t want to return to the classroom, so you and your union thugs continue to perpetuate a false threat about a virus that simply does not exist in Kauai.


      1. Queue September 13, 2020 5:35 am Reply

        If it’s so easy, why aren’t you pulling down all that extra cash on the side?

        Here’s a hint, it is neither easy nor well paid.


  3. LMat September 10, 2020 8:46 am Reply

    The teachers were the ones who pushed for the distance learning. They didn’t feel the DOE had implemented enough training/safety precautions for safe face-to-face learning. This petition undermines their concerns. A better petition would have been to address the DOE, to demand a better plan for return to school.
    I think at this point, both parents and teachers are realizing how difficult the distance learning really is and both are ready for a better plan as to how we get our kids back in school.


    1. Reality Bites September 11, 2020 1:39 am Reply

      If the checkout employees at Home Depot and Walmart, places that have been open the entire time during this “Scamdemic”, can experience hundreds of customers per day, then I think the teachers can stand in front of a class and talk to children sitting from 6 feet away.

      Drama where there is no drama. Get the kids back to school for quality education.


      1. Rump Roast September 13, 2020 5:39 am Reply

        Are you willing to take on the responsibility for anyone who gets sick and spreads it to others?
        You really think this is a scam? You have proof that 1) this isn’t a real virus, or 2) this isn’t contagious, or 3) people don’t die from it… What is it?


  4. kauai resident / parent September 10, 2020 9:27 am Reply

    Bravo. Great to see this petition in the works. I hope it motivates others to do what’s best for their children and families. Like the author said, each family dynamic is different but ultimately the current schooling model is detrimental to these children in more ways than one. Let them go to school!


  5. John September 10, 2020 11:48 am Reply

    This is a nice idea, but in reality it won’t make any difference. Hawaii and Kauai’s leadership are beholden to corporatism, which comes before anything else – including our keiki’s future. Billionaires have become multi-billionaires during the Covid pandemic, and since billionaires control our elected leaders, it’s highly unlikely they will do anything that benefits the people over the mega-corporations.

    You also have to factor in the teacher’s unions (I’m looking at you, HSTA) and the DOE, both who have vested interests in keeping Hawaiis and Kauai’s schools closed. Why would they want to go back to work when they can continue to enjoy a free stay-at-home holiday for the rest of the year?


    1. Citizen Cane September 11, 2020 12:29 am Reply

      John: almost without exception every teacher I’ve known as both a parent and a student, has shown a selflessness beyond most people’s willingness to attempt. Are you really suggesting it’s a profession entered into by people looking for “what’s in it for me?” To characterize their health and safety concerns in the way you have is perhaps best understood as a projection of your own proclivities.


      1. John September 12, 2020 11:33 am Reply

        Never said the teachers, I said the ORGANIZATIONS who are strong-arming the teachers into not working. And if you don’t think that the employees of Hawaii inter-governmental departments like the DOE and the DOH aren’t some of the most lazy and selfish people working in our broken system, then you clearly are not familiar with our government.


        1. JJ September 13, 2020 5:40 am Reply

          Does this John is a government employee?


  6. MamaTree September 10, 2020 3:09 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for starting this petition, Ms. Galbraith!


  7. D.P. September 10, 2020 8:16 pm Reply

    There are currently a few private schools on this island that are open and operating normally. The students at these schools are primarily the children of Kauai’s wealthy and elite – including our elected leaders.

    Are you telling me that these students and their teachers are somehow impervious to Covid? Does being rich protect them from getting sick?

    Because it sounds more like “rules for thee not for me” 1%er hypocrisy. That these privileged children are entitled to an education while the working class must stay at home – missing out on learning AND on earning.


    1. LMat September 11, 2020 2:28 pm Reply

      No. They’re “impervious” to the DOE and it’s mandates. That’s why they are called PRIVATE schools.
      Why are you vilifying Kauai’s private schools tho…? Seems kinda silly. And you are absolutely wrong about the students being “primarily children of Kauai’s wealthy and elite”. That’s almost laughable. I hardly think you need to be “rich” or a “1%er” to be able to send your kids to a Kauai private school. I’d say you need to be resourceful, dedicated and determined. I’ve done it in the past and I am definitely NOT wealthy.


      1. John September 12, 2020 11:41 am Reply

        @LMat, I think you are missing @DP’s point. They are saying that if Kauai’s leadership are willing to send their own children to local private school’s that are still open for face-to-face learning, then these leaders obviously don’t feel there is much of a health risk in going to school right now – so why are they forcing everyone else to stay at home?

        And also, no 1st grader – especially not in Kauai – should have to jump through hoops like being “resourceful, dedicated and determined” just to receive an education. Your statement smacks of elitism. You might not be wealthy, but you strike me as an aristocracy apologist.


  8. yes September 10, 2020 8:47 pm Reply

    IGE needs to go back to grade school


  9. Frontline Mom September 11, 2020 3:05 pm Reply

    For the teachers who are mad at this petition. I work on the front lines and have children who are currently doing distant learning. It’s not working and we currently don’t have any active cases on Kauai. I believe it’s safe for children to go back to school. I see all of you gathering for parties & beach days. You eat at restaurants & participate in other activities. So tell me why my children can’t go to school? If you are so concerned about kids going back to school, please practice what you preach & stay home.


  10. Will Makit September 13, 2020 8:20 am Reply

    Kauai already has some of the worst education in the country. Plenty of middle schools kids that can’t even read. Let’s make sure these kids never have a chance of getting a decent job some day by forcing them to “learn” from home. Lazy teachers are full of excuses. All the cashiers on Kauai can safely work but a classroom is dangerous? Gimme a break. So I guess all these teachers don’t risk going to stores. What a joke! No body here wanted to work before Covid , now everyone has a great excuse. The kids are our future !! Give them a real education or we will have a future full of more unemployed drug addicts and losers and then their only option will be to run for Kauai County Council or Mayor.


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