BOE receives record number of testimony to delay students return to campus

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Push-back the August 4 return of public school students to campuses. That is the overwhelming testimony presented to the Board of Education in their monthly meeting Thursday.

[RELATED: State officials discuss return to school amid lingering COVID-19 concerns]

Board of Education Chairperson Catherine Payne said they have received over 4,000 pages–record numbers of testimony–with the overwhelming majority asking to delay welcoming public school students to campus in 12 days.

The main concerns– lack of a clear and concise plan of action.

“Presently all of the rules and regulations have been vague and unclear. There’s no consistent understanding between teachers, principals, parents and frankly the HSTA , the DOH or the DOE.”

teacher Heather Devin

Many who testified voiced concerns surrounding inconsistencies in distance learning options and lack of communication in how things should be done inside the classrooms to ensure everyone is safe.

“We have had no guidance or plan from the DOH. Procedures that we usually employ in the classroom like passing out papers, providing help are questionable regarding safety due to social distancing guidelines. I’m trained to be a teacher, not a medical professional,” said teacher Summer Howegner.

Many teachers and even students also expressed fears that they are being put at risk and what will happen if they get sick.

“I may bounce back if I get sick, but I don’t want my education to be the reason I have to bury my family,” said teacher Kayla Lim Tam.

“This is not something that we rush. I want to be very clear this is not just teachers, this is administrators, there are EAs, our custodians all of the people that are working at schools have shared that they are reckless and that our schools are not ready,” said Hawaii State Teacher Association President Corey Rosenlee.

Not everyone agrees the delay is the right decision.

Board of Education board member Bruce Voss said that it will come at great cost to the education of some students.

“Without some classroom instruction. Without developing some in person relationship with teachers, many if not most of our special education, English learners and economically disadvantaged students will not learn. That’s a real cost.”

Board of Education board member Bruce Voss

The BOE was still in discussions. We will follow up and let you know what happens.

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