Wednesday, May 25, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — Hawai‘i public schools are anticipated to reopen with in-person learning Tuesday.
The Hawai‘i State Department of Education has been working with the state Department of Health throughout winter break monitoring the impacts of the omicron variant in preparation for the return of students and staff.
With the continued support and guidance from DOH, HIDOE will resume full in-person learning during the second semester.
“We’ve seen the benefits of in-person learning for our students’ social development and academic achievement and while we remain vigilant due to the omicron variant, we have consistent safety measures in place that have proven effective at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our schools,” Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi said in a statement.
Over the break, HIDOE leadership and school leaders have been revisiting contingency plans and preparing for potential situations that may require modifications to in-person instruction. Should any transitions need to occur, schools will notify their staff and families directly.
Hayashi said that “core safety protocols” like encouraging vaccination, masking and social distancing will continue.
Since Dec. 1, HIDOE schools collectively have seen a daily average of 19 positive cases across nearly 42,000 staff and 160,000 students, according to the Department’s case count dashboard.
“Keeping our schools safe and open is a community effort and will require action and commitment from each and every one of us to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Hayashi said.
Educators are scheduled to return to school Monday.
Hawai‘i State Teachers Association President Osa Tui Jr. said that both HIDOE and DOH “had time to make better plans for situations such as this and failed to act in a responsible way.” The union has yet to see the contingency plans the departments have touted, he said.
“If the HIDOE is truly prepared, it should direct all campuses to share those plans with staff and families so they can properly prepare,” Tui said in a statement. “Our communities deserve more transparency so they can plan for adequate childcare and work/schedule modifications.”
Tui pointed to recent federal and state isolation and quarantine period shortenings, the unvaccinated, lack of testing opportunities and omicron variant as concerns.
“Many of Hawai‘i’s keiki remain unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, placing them at higher risk for serious complications from a COVID-19 infection,” Tui said. “In addition, as shown in our own community, the rapid increase and spread of COVID-19 from the omicron variant is causing large numbers of first responders to have to isolate. The HSTA is very concerned that the HIDOE has no plans or guidance for school administrators should they be hit with high numbers of staff who must isolate or quarantine in the coming weeks.”
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