(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi unions have joined together in urging the State of Hawaiʻi and the Board of Education to delay the opening of school buildings to students.
The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA), Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA), and United Public Workers (UPW) issued a joint statement on Wednesday. The call for the delay comes after a Monday news conference in which top State officials announced they will be moving forward with the reopening of public schools on August 4th. The next day, the HSTA held its own news conference to express its concern with the “lack of proper procedures, insufficient time for pandemic training,” and the “backlog of personal protective equipment (PPE) that has yet to arrive at schools”.
In the Wednesday statement, the HSTA, HGEA, and UPW wrote:
We represent all bargaining unit employees on public school campuses. UPW represents custodians, cafeteria workers, skilled trades workers, school physical therapist aides, and occupational therapy assistants; HGEA represents principals, vice principals, athletic directors, athletic health trainers, cafeteria managers, educational assistants, security attendants, special services personnel, school health assistants, school custodian supervisors and clerical staff; and HSTA represents teachers, librarians, counselors, and registrars.
We do not feel the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) and the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) have done enough to properly create and implement health strategies to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on our public school campuses.
The unions say the following steps must be completed to ensure facilities are safe for staff and keiki:
- The health department must provide written guidance on the reopening of school buildings, and
- All faculty and staff must be “properly trained and provided sufficient supplies, equipment, and protocols to ensure our facilities are kept clean and our faculty, staff, and students are safe.”
“We have a critical obligation to our communities to take every step and precaution necessary to ensure the safety of our students and members as we reopen schools,” the unions wrote.
The Hawaiʻi Board of Education meets virtually today at 1:30 p.m.