(BIVN) – Honolulu County will be going to complete distance learning for the first four weeks of the new school year, while school reopening plans in the other three counties will continue as planned, with blended learning models.
Students are set to begin the year on August 17.
Governor David Ige and Hawaiʻi DOE Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto made the announcement at a Friday news briefing, one day after new rules were announced to curb the growing spread of COVID-19 on O‘ahu, and a few hours after the Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association held a news conference calling for full distance learning.
The HSTA also said that it wanted the distance learning to take place in all schools on all islands. However, the State announcement today only covers Oʻahu schools.
“I have heard a great deal of concern from parents and teachers regarding the start of the school year… This is a challenging time,” Governor Ige said. “And I know that parents, teachers and students are worried. I also realize that keeping students at home is going to be an additional burden on working parents, but because of the recent surge on O‘ahu, I agree that this is the right approach. I know you’re frustrated with all of these measures. Everyone wants our lives to return to normal. But we still need to be vigilant, and taking personal responsibility is still the best way to fight COVID-19.”
Dr. Kishimoto said during the news conference that she has met with the Complex Area Superintendents on the Neighbor Islands to talk about the plan.
“It is our mission to ensure that all students in Hawai‘i have equitable access to a quality education, even amidst this pandemic,” said Superintendent Kishimoto. “Learning must take place as we continue to safeguard our island community. Mahalo to our students, teachers, staff and school communities for their continued support and flexibility during these challenging times.”
Starting on Aug. 17, all O‘ahu public schools will be implementing full distance learning models, the DOE says. Schools will use Aug. 10-14, to train and prepare for this transition. The DOE has designed three phases:
- First phase, in-person training (Aug. 17-20): During the first week of school, students will physically return to campus on a coordinated and scheduled basis, determined by each individual school, to connect with their teacher, receive training on the distance learning platforms, and address issues with connectivity and access to technology. Special considerations will be given to vulnerable students and their families for more in-person access to the school and teachers. Starting on Aug. 17, Oʻahu cafeterias will be serving only grab-and-go meals; in-person dining will not be allowed. After-school programs will be suspended until students return to in-person blended learning models.
- Second phase, ready to learn (Aug. 24-Sept. 11): For the remainder of the four-week period, full distance learning will be implemented. Staff will report to their designated work sites for continued distance learning instruction. Special education services that cannot be provided in a distance learning format will be available in person. Supervised in-person learning labs at schools will be available for students who do not have WiFi access.
- Third phase, transition to blended learning (Sept. 14): DOE will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with the Governor’s Office and DOH to assess whether or not students can safely return to in-person blended learning models. If distance learning will continue for the remainder of the first quarter of school, an announcement will be made on Sept. 8.