BOE open to distance learning options heading into fall, interim superintendent favors in-person

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Waipahu High School principal Keith Hayashi is now the interim superintendent for Hawaii’s public schools.

The Board of Education (BOE) made the announcement during the afternoon of Thursday, June 17.

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The BOE discussed options for parents and students heading into the fall, including the option for distance learning. BOE officials stated some parents might not feel comfortable sending their children back to school just yet.

“Understanding that this distance learning may not be the ideal mode of instruction for most students,” said BOE chair Catherine Payne. “I do not think we should be pushing students and families out of the public education system to home school for any reason especially not because of health and safety concerns.” 

“I agree we should have the opportunities for families to have that option of distance learning,” said board member Christine Namauu. “We have spent an enormous amount of money in the past year for devices and connectivity and training for teachers and I think we should explore that distance learning option further and make that available for families and students who probably thrived under those conditions.”

Hayashi spoke with media shortly after the announcement and said he would not comment on future actions out of respect to the current superintendent, but did say as a current principal,

“I think it’s important for me to reach out and to touch bases with the schools and to see where everyone’s at,” he explained. “I do know in talking to my colleagues that everyone is looking to open in-person as I talk with other school principals, so at this point, we’re looking at putting our efforts to a smooth transition for in-person learning for our students.”

Board member Bruce Voss said he was troubled hearing some of the testimony from parents.

“As the saying goes everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts, vaccinations help limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community and greatly reduce the risk of serious injury and death in COVID-19, those are facts. So, I strongly support the resolution to encourage vaccinations and to continue providing information, facts, and access to vaccinations to those who are eligible and wish to receive it,” he said.

For now, board members also agreed on allowing the Department of Health to be the authority for COVID-19 guidance. The board will vote on distance learning, vaccine encouragement and more in its July meeting.

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