It’s time to open schools

To Mayor Kawakami, the County Council and school administrators;

Kauaians eagerly awaited a New Year that would look nothing like 2020. We’ve been “good,” following the rules, regulations and lockdowns, for better and for worse. We’ve worn our masks, “sheltered” at home, so, in 2020, you learned that the citizens of Kaua‘i willingly protect themselves and others who may be “at-risk” due to age or health conditions.

We now know that opinions based on science differ among credible medical experts, i.e., doctors, yet they all agree that school-age children and adolescents, barring specific individual health conditions, are at low risk of acquiring or spreading COVID-19. Yet middle and high schools continue to relegate students to hours of computer instruction, lacking the relief or incentive of school sports and other school activities.

So why are students still enduring hours of computer instruction, inactivity and low motivation without the healthy benefits derived from school sports and other interactive school programs? Why was the recent decision made to allow Senior Softball (which I applaud) without allowing high school sports to begin as well?

Adults do not need school-age children and young adults to refrain from normal daily activities in order to protect us, their “at risk” elders whether we are grandparents, “at risk” adults, or teachers for that matter.

Rather, adults must ensure that children are actively engaged in a way that promotes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Not all working parents can provide that without the help of the schools. Statistics show that middle- and high-school-age students nationwide are highly susceptible to depression given the current restrictions, putting them at risk for failing grades, depression, suicide or self-destructive behavior.

On an island that has among the lowest of COVID-related cases in the nation, imposing these restrictions on our keiki makes no sense.

My husband and I have grandchildren on the island, and we want them to enjoy the opportunities afforded by school, sports programs and healthy activities without worrying about us. Our health is our responsibility, not theirs.

Imposing unnecessary restrictions related to schools and businesses promotes an atmosphere of frustration, distrust, fear and, in many cases, depression.

A healthy community rewards self-responsibility and accountability and prioritizes the needs of our children. Several of Kaua‘i’s private schools have prioritized their students’ and student families’ needs, are taking the prescribed precautions, and the result is positive for all involved.

Who or what is preventing our public schools from doing the same and, more importantly, who is able and willing to make the decision to open the doors of our schools once again? Who will make the move to begin school sports, the benefits of which include motivation to maintain good grades, healthy social interaction and physical health?

I look forward to your responses.


Nanette Keao is a resident of Kalaheo.

  1. I saw a Vampire once January 18, 2021 6:34 am Reply

    I don’t know. Not every one likes mainstream schooling. Some times things need to be mixed up. And that is where you get “you”.

  2. james January 18, 2021 7:06 am Reply

    What evidence do you have that “that school-age children and adolescents, barring specific individual health conditions, are at low risk of acquiring or spreading COVID-19.” We simply don’t know this to be a fact, especially with these variants starting to spread. If I were a teacher or a grandparent of a school aged child, I would be very concerned about opening up schools until they, and most of the rest of us, have been vaccinated.

    1. Reality Bites January 19, 2021 3:17 am Reply

      CDC recently updated estimated infection fatality rates for COVID. Here are the updated survival rates by age group:

      0-19: 99.997%
      20-49: 99.98%
      50-69: 99.5%
      70+: 94.6%

      Sorry for the facts.

      1. james January 20, 2021 6:44 am Reply

        Over 400,000 dead. 1 in about 900 Americans has died from Covid. Sorry for the facts.

        1. Reality Bites January 22, 2021 4:45 am Reply

          “The Director of the CDC has come out and bluntly stated that there have been far more deaths from suicides and drug overdoses than from COVID-19.”

          Repeat after me…….”Scamdemic”

  3. Spot on January 18, 2021 7:15 am Reply

    Beautiful essay. Well written and hits on all the points. I too look forward to mr kawakamis response. It’s about time he emerges from his bubble to address his constituents current concerns. Without transparency his support has been quickly dropping.

  4. jkh January 18, 2021 8:36 am Reply

    Hear Hear!!

    KCA in Kilauea has been open full time face to face the entire time and not one case reported.

    Teachers have received the shot, no more excuses.

  5. John January 18, 2021 9:32 am Reply

    I’ve got some bad news for you – Kawakami doesn’t care. Nor does the HI DOE. Hawaii has the lowest academic scores of any state in the entire country; it’s been this way for so long that they simply stopped caring. The state’s DOE headquarters is basically just a retirement home for has-been educators and bureaucrats to get paid and earn a pension while sitting around playing cards.

    There’s also a conspiracy theory that Hawaii’s piss-poor education system is part of a bigger long-term plan to keep the lower classes here purposely downtrodden in order to groom them as future minimum-wage servants working on the islands (as opposed to leaving after graduation to the mainland for higher education and better jobs).

    Meanwhile, Kawakami’s kids attend PRIVATE school, where they continue to have regular 5-days/week in-class instruction throughout the entire duration of Covid (apparently Kawakami believes that low-income public-school kids spread the virus more than rich kids). Nevermind the fact that there has been 0 cases of campus-spread transmission anywhere in Kauai or Hawaii.

    Kawakami’s treatment of public school students is despicable, and the diabolical policies he and his protege Paul Zina have put in place to keep our keiki stuck at home for the past year without any real learning or growth warrants his removal from office.

  6. david presley January 18, 2021 10:08 am Reply

    Sounds like you have a well thought out plan. I saw on the news in Los Angeles that they were stacking bodies in freezer units by the hundreds. It looked from the video that they were stacking in the “cord of wood” method, one on-top of another. Do you feel if they stacked the dead bodies in a, “log-cabin” method with two bodies one way and then two bodies the other way, that they would get a more stable pile of dead bodies? I only ask because you seem like the type of person to really think things through and when we have to start stacking the bodies of all the dead up here on Kauai, we should have a plan. Looking forward to all your thought on the dead.


    1. Jkh January 18, 2021 9:22 pm Reply

      David: melodramatic much?

  7. Doug January 18, 2021 2:52 pm Reply

    I would agree that it is time to start re opening schools, the teachers have their shots so we can move forward. The schools should be re opened BEFORE re opening to tourists, so let’s get on with it, as we all know the tourist flood gates will be opened soon if Representative Saiki has his way.

  8. LTEreader January 18, 2021 3:20 pm Reply

    “On an island that has among the lowest of COVID-related cases in the nation, imposing these restrictions on our keiki makes no sense.”

    We have some of the lowest cases in the Nation BECAUSE of the restrictions!

    Picture this…
    Billy’s Dad travels to the Mainland for business. He gets tested before boarding the plane home and is negative. He returns to Kaua’i, checks into a ‘bubble resort’ for 3 days, tests negative after 72 hours and goes home. Billy & family are happy Dad’s back and greet him with hugs. Billy and his siblings go to school the next day. A few days later Billy’s Dad develops COVID symptoms. He gets tested and is now positive. The whole family gets tested and most are positive too, so they quarantine. In the meantime Billy and his siblings were unknowingly shedding virus so now a handful of children at school are positive. They pass it along to some of the teachers, their parents and/or siblings, and some of these kids share a home with their grandparents. The parents and teachers were unaware they’d contracted COVID so went to work, then shopped for groceries on the way home. Now you have an outbreak. Some end up in the ICU. 4 of our 9 ICU beds are already occupied with non-covid patients (not unusual), but 6 need to be intensive care. Now what? THAT’S how fast things can change. THAT’S why Mayor Kawakami has been so strict. This pandemic has been hard on millions around the world, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We’re all tired of the restrictions, but need to be patient a bit longer.

    1. Susan January 19, 2021 9:53 am Reply

      @LTEreader – there is no point in discussing hypotheticals or what-ifs, only the facts. And the facts – along with science – show that there have been ZERO cases of Covid transmission in any school in Kauai since this all started.

      Yes, this can be partially attributed to the first round enforced quarantines (back when Kawakami had a spine and wasn’t caving to pressure by certain business interests).

      However, now that Kauai is once again totally open to tourism and inter-island travel, even with the occasional case of community spread there still has not been one single case of Covid in any Kauai school.

      What you and other pro-business, pro-tourism residents are lobbying for is to close down our schools and keep our students trapped at home so that businesses and tourism can continue to make money.

      Nanette and other local parents feel that is a terrible policy. Why should our children lose an entire year’s worth of learning and development just so that YOU can profit?

      Do you not see the long-term negative impact that will have on our community? Or do you just not care?

  9. WAVE January 18, 2021 3:42 pm Reply







  10. Aloha808 January 18, 2021 5:09 pm Reply

    DOE is tied up with the politics and issues of Oahu cases, but DOE gave Kauai permission to make their decision about schools. What is the plan for DOE on Kauai (because 1 or 2 days a week, part-time school isn’t enough). There is hypocrisy seeing that senior softball got County approval to run a league, the very age sector that the island was shut down to protect from Covid. Further hypocrisy seeing that there was a 3 week summer session in June 2020 for all incoming 6th graders at a DOE middle school, and youth programs for Summer and Winter Fun happened too. Covid restrictions are applied to certain closures in State but not in the County, and it makes no sense.

  11. Zoe January 19, 2021 10:37 am Reply

    Excellent article Nanette Keao…. We that Love Jesus,, God and Country are standing with you in prayer and in faith that God will wake up those that are slumbering…. Zoe

  12. Bob January 19, 2021 10:40 am Reply

    If the teachers are vaccinated, then the schools should be in-person.

  13. LTEreader January 19, 2021 4:51 pm Reply

    Susan: “even with the occasional case of community spread there still has not been one single case of Covid in any Kauai school.”

    Might want to pay closer attention to the news. There’s been multiple cases in Kaua’i schools.

    1. Susan January 19, 2021 8:15 pm Reply

      @LTEreader – You are either gravely misinformed or you are trying to create an “alternative truth”. There has been NO student-to-student Covid transmission in Kauai, not ever. Call up the Department of Health and get the facts for yourself!

  14. KauaiFarmMan January 20, 2021 6:17 am Reply

    It’s unbelievable the amount of fear people are still living in. There’s a vaccine now and the numbers of deaths is grossly inflated. Look at stats , country to country, year to year , month to month. Same amount of people have died in 2018, 2019, 2020. Deaths are being converted to
    Covid. People stopped dying from everything else apparently. There is very little threat here. Open the schools. Open the island. All this pandemic really did was fast track gentrification here. Who will benefit ? The wealthy local land owners and the mainlanders coming here buying your foreclosed homes. The longer we stay shut, the less Kauai will remain Kauai. We will look like Maui in 5 years. You people are so scared you forgot about freedom and our rights. Open up !!!!!

  15. LTEreader January 20, 2021 11:39 am Reply

    At NO time did I say there’s been any “student-to-student COVID transmission.” Do not twist my words to justify yours. There has however been some children that tested positive, and their schools alerted parents. That’s a FACT!

    1. Susan January 21, 2021 10:02 am Reply

      @LTEreader – you really are a special kind of moron that you can’t even keep track of your own words. In your first reply to me above, you wrote “There’s been multiple cases in Kaua’i schools.”

      The operative word in your sentence being “IN”, as in Covid has been spreading inside our schools here.

      Then, when I call out your factually incorrect statement, you try to backtrack by saying “There has however been some children that tested positive, and their schools alerted parents.”

      That is an entirely different statement.

      Yes, anyone who follows the local news is well aware that some children in Kauai caught Covid. But they DID NOT CATCH IT IN SCHOOL. Those particular children caught the virus during travel trips to the mainland (as reported in the news) with their idiot parents.

      Thus, you have unwittingly supported my original argument above that Kauai schools should open (and travel/tourism should be reduced) because there has been NO transmission of the virus in our schools, not ever.

      Go educate yourself before trying to argue facts, numbers and science, you numbskull.

  16. LTEreader January 21, 2021 5:38 pm Reply

    “moron” and “numbskull”? What is wrong with you?! SMH.

    At NO time did I say ANY child contracted COVID while IN school. There were however children that tested positive, and notices of such were issued to parents. I’ve seen them. Why were parents sent notices? Because the children were IN school. Not rocket science.
    You’re obviously not aware, but not all schools have been closed 5 days a week throughout this pandemic, and some have been on partial weeks (Mon/Wed/Fri. OR Tues/Thurs. attendance), with additional work sent home. Know your facts, and save the childish name calling for someone else. Oh, and you might want to get your blood pressure checked.

    1. Susan January 22, 2021 12:17 pm Reply

      @LTEreader – You are either shilling for Kawakami or HSTA (Hawai’i State Teachers Association), both whom have steadfastly lobbied to keep Kauai public schools closed, because the misinformation you are trying (but failing) to spread here is blatantly and laughably incorrect.

      I’d suggest you run along and get yourself an education before trying to argue facts with grownups…but guess what? Schools are closed!

  17. LTEreader January 23, 2021 1:01 am Reply

    I have no affiliation with Mayor Kawakami, or the HSTA. I’m just a resident that doesn’t appreciate being insulted. Below you’ll find a newsletter excerpt from a school located near me. Not all schools are participating in Blended Learning. That being said, I didn’t bother looking up others because you’re not worth wasting anymore of my time.

    Including for your reference –
    “A/B Blended Learning Model: Half of the student population would attend class in-person four full days per week, while the other half would engage in distance learning. The students would alternate each week.”

    “Thank you for supporting your child’s education through distance learning over the first semester of the 2020-21 school year. In preparation for 3rd quarter, we are planning to have our students continue participating in the Blended A/B model from Jan. 5 – March 12, 2021. Students will report to school 2 to 3 times a week on an alternating schedule. All parents of students that will continue with fully remote distance learning must complete a Distance Learning Opt-In form”

    Allow me to reiterate a key takeaway > “we are planning to have our students continue participating in the Blended A/B model from Jan. 5 – March 12, 2021.” Going out on a limb here and assuming you know what the word “continue” means?

    Mic drop.

    1. John January 25, 2021 12:53 pm Reply

      Hey LTEreader – allow me to intrude in your debate with Susan.

      Firstly, you DID claim above that Kauai students were catching Covid “in school”, and then when Susan pointed out your misinformation, you attempted to backtrack. I’m not sure why you are denying this when it’s all printed above.

      Secondly, you seem to be confused about what Nanette (the author of this article) and other commentators on this thread are trying to express: that there’s no good reason to anymore continue to keep Kauai schools closed, or even “distance/blended learning”.

      These reasons are twofold: 1) There has NEVER been a single case of Covid transmitted in ANY Kauai school, and 2) children under 18 are the LOWEST-RISK demographic of catching Covid.

      Moreover, I argue that keeping Kauai schools closed is creating a permanent underclass of local residents by 1) not providing our children with their right to a proper education, and 2) forcing working-class parents here to quit their jobs/incomes in order to stay at home with their children.

      Even the so-called blended/distance-learning model that you seem to champion is fatally flawed because working-class parents still must stay home at least 2.5 days per week in order to supervise their children.

      I and others believe that Kawakami is doing this on purpose because the result has been an increase in foreclosures of local resident’s homes and properties now that they no longer can afford their mortgage payments due to having to cut their incomes in half from staying at home with their children during the work week.

      And guess who is buying up all those foreclosed properties in Kauai? Kawakami’s wealthy friends and his corporate donors!

      I am not a science denier – Covid exists and it is deadly. But Kauai has been blessed with a very low Covid case rate, and it’s just illogical – and ruinous for our community – to continue to keep schools closed.

  18. LTEreader January 25, 2021 5:47 pm Reply

    Re John:
    “Firstly, you DID claim above that Kauai students were catching Covid “in school”, and then when Susan pointed out your misinformation, you attempted to backtrack. I’m not sure why you are denying this when it’s all printed above.”

    Say what? NOWHERE have I said “Kauai students were catching Covid in school”
    The initial comment about “Billy” was a mock scenario of what ‘could’ happen because too many don’t realize how quickly things ‘could’ escalate. If you couldn’t figure that out, then that’s on you!

    My response to Susan > “There’s been multiple cases in Kaua’i schools.”
    And there has been!!! These children were attending school. They tested positive for COVID, so parents of the children attending that school were notified. I DON’T know where they caught it, nor did I EVER claim to know!

    And, I’m not advocating for, or against schools open or closed. I was simply trying to point out to Susan that some children have been COVID positive IN schools here. You BOTH need to brush up on reading comprehension!

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