Some students may return to schools

LIHU‘E — Friday, the state Department of Education Kaua‘i Complex Area office announced it will revise island school distance-learning models through the second quarter of the current school year, from Oct. 12 to Dec. 18.

“We are making these changes due to the low COVID-19 case count and infection rate for our island,” DOE Complex Area Superintendent Paul Zina said.

Zina said there will be more in-person learning for students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grades, more in-person learning for additional identified students in secondary schools grades six to 12, and mask-wearing with 6-feet social-distancing measures are still required for all in-person learning.

Parents who want to keep their children learning from home still have the option of full distance learning for all grades, he said. Distance learning will stay in place for secondary students to ensure consistent school operations and continuity of instruction for credit-earning courses.

Zina said schools will continue educational programming to meet identified students’ needs, such as campus learning hubs.

“The Kaua‘i Complex Area superintendent will continue to work with school principals to develop plans for each school model of instruction, with considerations for community-specific needs,” Zina said. “(We) will continue to work closely with state, county and health officials to assess when students can safely return to more in-person learning as the year continues.”

On Thursday, the DOE announced new thresholds and guidelines for principals to use to decide how and when to reopen their schools after the first quarter.

According to the state Department of Health, the new metrics outline five levels of community transmission of COVID-19 that would trigger corresponding learning model parameters for schools to consider and to assist with decision-making. Those metrics are updated every Friday.

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Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or

  1. MamaTree September 19, 2020 5:56 pm Reply

    Parents should be outraged – outraged – at our leadership’s total disregard for the average kid who just wants – and needs – to get back to school. Note that “more in person learning” for identified students does not mean back-to-school for everyone, or everyday; and for the majority of our kids it doesn’t even mean going back to the original “blended” model that schools first implemented in August. One high school is now saying they can only accommodate face-to-face learning ONE DAY a week next quarter. Based on what? Can’t fit the kids in the classrooms? Really!? These decisions are not based on COVID data or even DOE “guidance”: (1) One week of blended learning last month yielded not one new COVID case, let alone a surge; our COVID case rate is the lowest in the nation with ZERO deaths, one hospitalization, no active cases, and 57 total since March per today’s DOH report. (2) The HI DOE’s own “guidance” says 6ft distancing is recommended for students seated facing each other, whereas most classes here are already set up with desks/students spaced apart and facing the front of the class, not each other. (3) There is already a reduced student population because 100% distance learning remains an “option” for all students. So how many more excuses and delays are parents supposed to tolerate? Shame on the powers-that-be for a total lack of transparency and for not making kids the priority in the so-called plan for achieving “consistent school operations.” If those decisions were truly based on COVID numbers here on Kauai, all grades would be back at school NOW, five days a week, like Island School and the Catholic schools (who’ve been open for over a month and no health crises there!). Let the kids whose families so choose return to school, and the teachers who consider themselves at risk teach remotely from home. Put an adult in the classroom to monitor the kids watching their teacher on screen for a change. You don’t need a teacher to do that! Maybe re-direct some of the near half-million dollars Kauai received in spring from Zuckerberg and friends to hire some temp personnel to do that job instead of insisting that we continue this 100% “distance learning project” beyond its natural lifespan, using our kids as the guinea pigs. (I didn’t sign up or vote for it by the way!) Stop blaming kupuna and multi-generational families as your reason for not opening, also: They have figured out how to function and so managed for months now, so why can’t schools!? Sheena Leigh’s petition is a fantastic start for us parents and thank goodness for her efforts. Now we must demand honest answers and accountability from our schools’ leaders, the CAS and the HSTA. Their current plan – if you can even call it that – for our children through the end of this year is completely unacceptable.

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