Council resolution urging reopening of schools

LIHU‘E — County Councilmembers Mason Chock and Luke Evslin have introduced a new resolution, urging the state to reopen schools for full-time, in-person learning and allowing interscholastic sports competitions, as well as organized youth sports to resume for grades kindergarten to 12.

“As our mayor plans reopening Kaua‘i, we cannot forget our highest priority, our children’s education and well-being,” Chock said.

“This resolution is a reminder to our leadership around the state to begin the process of expanding physical exercise and in-school instruction opportunities.”

The resolution also requests that adult recreational sports resume as well. The voting of this new resolution is expected to happen at Wednesday’s council meeting.

According to Evslin, this resolution is based on guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state Department of Health, all of which are urging a return to full-time, in-person education in communities with low levels of community transmission.

“While I understand the reason that schools were closed originally, there is a growing body of evidence cited by the CDC and the AAP that places with in-person education have not seen an increase in community spread and that children under 10 years old appear less likely to get infected and less likely to spread the disease to others,” Evslin said.

Evslin said the resolution is also based on the known benefits of in-person education plus the harms of remote education, such as widening educational disparities and the difficulty for parents in returning to work.

“We simply wanted to mirror the CDC, AAP and DOH advice in urging a return to in-person schooling as soon as possible for as long as our case counts remain low enough that we are within the safe metrics developed by the CDC and DOH,” Evslin said.

Evslin said he was inspired to create the resolution by his many friends who have young children. Because the council has no actual authority over the state Department of Education, the resolution merely means that they have a voice advocating on behalf of parents and students.

“I hear almost every single day of the stresses that both parents and their children are facing,” Evslin said.

“My goal here is simply to hopefully speak with a unified voice representing the community that we as a council believe that we should follow CDC, DOH and AAP recommendations and resume in-person education.”

Caroline Freudig, a first-grade teacher at Kalaheo School and the president of the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association’s Kaua‘i Chapter, said the organization is bringing the issue before the HSTA board of directors this week.

“HSTA recognizes that this is a very important issue,” Freudig said.

Meanwhile, Kaua‘i High School teacher Jon Medeiros is also a parent of two elementary-aged kids, and said that he has mixed feelings about the resolution.

“I want students to have access to all that they need,” Medeiros said. “One concern is the difficulty in teaching fully-virtual students while also teaching in-person students full time. I also have a concern with the underlining idea that simply having kids in school buildings will lead to better learning.”

Kapa‘a resident Madison Perry is a working parent with two young children, one in preschool and the other in kindergarten. She said the distance-learning model that has been in place during the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging for her 6-year-old and 4-year-old children, and the hybrid model that blended online and in-person learning was difficult to accommodate for working parents.

“The challenges are many, but I know I’m not alone,” Perry said. “With CDC releasing their support of full-time learning, Kaua‘i (and) Hawai‘i being within safe measures, and many educators having received their first vaccination, we have hope that our community can hopefully regain some equilibrium.”

Evslin point out the resolution up for consideration combines lessons learned from the last year.

“One of the takeaways is a reiteration of how important teachers are not only in educating our children but in addressing racial and social inequities and ensuring that we can have a thriving economy by providing safe childcare options,” Evslin said.

“And so one of the goals with this resolution is to recognize the vital importance of teachers and high-quality schools for our children and our communities.”

  1. Reality Bites February 21, 2021 5:24 am Reply

    Biden: “We will follow the science”

    Kauai Council: “The CDC says we can open the schools full time and in person”

    Teachers: “We are not going back to work until President Biden signs the $2 TRILLION Recovery Act. We are scheduled to get billions of dollars and hope to extort as much money as possible, by telling everyone we are afraid of dying at work”.

    Kauai Council: “Not a single teacher nor a single child has died at all the already open schools across the USA”

    Teachers: “This is not about science. We want to be recognized as important, thus get more pay for teaching”

    Kauai Council: “All the important store cashiers, the important Home Depot workers, the important bus drivers, etc., have continued to work throughout this Scamdemic without anyone dying”.

    Teachers: “Give us more money, or we are not coming back to work”.

    Biden: “Today, I have signed the $2 Trillion Recovery Act. Schools will be safer.”

    Conservative Media: “Mr President, how will the schools be safer.”

    Biden: “The teachers will have more money”

    American Public: “Got it”

    Stop the madness!

  2. Vigilauntie February 21, 2021 8:27 am Reply

    Oahu’s private high schools (ILH league) started their modified Spring sports season (select sports, no spectators) last month. With Kauai’s covid situation so much better than Oahu’s, KIF should start a modified Spring season soon. Since Kauai’s senior citizens can play softball, our high schoolers should also be allowed to play school sports.

  3. Rev Dr Malama February 21, 2021 8:51 am Reply

    Of course schools must open…. no resolution needed!
    What is sorely lacking is responsibility of the overly paid county employees to FIX the economic crisis in the here and now reality check of;
    1- still no cpa qualified AUDITOR
    These are the top of the iceberg that Council members need to focus on or be ready to be replaced next election or sooner….

  4. I saw a Vampire once February 21, 2021 9:57 am Reply

    Yeah. I can see how they would want it this way. Education include sports. I don’t know why, but the DOE has set standards to study and also to play sports. For example, everyone must pass the HSTEC to graduate as a senior. Some sports like Christian Manera of Kaua’i high school 2017 basketball star did not take the HSTEC. He played sports. Baseball and basketball and football. So the confusion is as an adult do you allow this? I don’t care. As long as I get my cut in money as a republican. Not a democrat. Do you get my point? If you have no money and you played sports, big deal. I still don’t care.

  5. Susan February 21, 2021 5:18 pm Reply

    “I also have a concern with the underlining idea that simply having kids in school buildings will lead to better learning,” said Kaua‘i High School teacher Jon Medeiros, who is also a parent of two elementary-aged kids.

    Well, then, sounds like Uncle Medeiros has his blinders on as both a parent and a teacher if he really believes that young children do not benefit mentally and academically from being at school to receive an in-class education.

    The fact is that distance/blended learning has proven ruinous for working-class students and parents; only the rich and the privileged (most whom attend private school full-time (because no HSTA) and are not caught up in this quagmire) think that staying at home to swipe apps on an iPad is a satisfactory substitute for actual learning.

  6. Joe Public February 22, 2021 2:04 pm Reply

    The teachers are the largest group of State employees, do you think the majority of the politicians would take a stand against them? teachers want to get paid for staying home. The State should privatize all public schools, would be cheaper for the state, and the tax payers, then dealing with the HSTA.

  7. Pete Stanton February 22, 2021 4:56 pm Reply

    Jon obviously is well off enough to afford great internet for his children to attend class online. Meanwhile in areas with poor infrastructure where Hawaiian Telcom refuses to upgrade their lines and Spectrum refuses to run lines to set up service, my children are unable to stream video and are constantly booted out of the classroom. The past week because of the storms, the internet connection has been unreliable and off for hours at a time. Jon, you want to tell me my kids are better off at home than in school??? This is just UNREAL!!!

    1. John February 23, 2021 8:52 am Reply

      @PeteStanton – Jon Medeiros is an HSTA rep. That explains everything. Thanks to their union, teachers were given a paid staycation at home for the past year (despite there not being a single case of Covid in any schools or students in Kauai), sitting around in their bathrobes teaching on Zoom for a couple hours per day, then off for some surfing. They do not want to have to now go back to their 7am-2pm classrooms (even though that’s what they are being paid to do). It’s laziness and selfishness, plain and simple.

      1. Jon February 24, 2021 6:12 pm Reply

        Aloha. I am not an HSTA rep nor am I well off. I do know how hard teachers, students, and parents have been working, though. As I said, we all want what is best for students. To clarify once again, schools have been and are open. They were never closed. I have students in my room at least four days a week and I have well over 100 students in class online every day, as is true for nearly every teacher on this island. Teachers and students are doing great work and should feel good about what they are learning.

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