COVID-19 expert praises local elementary school for thinking outside of the box, and classroom

Coronavirus

KAILUA, Hawaii (KHON2) — With no plans to pause school reopenings yet in Hawaii, campuses continue to get ready for students’ return in different ways. Some, like Aikahi Elementary School, have become creative in keeping students safer.

Aikahi has constructed two of four planned 20 x 40-foot outdoor learning spaces, which can house the school’s largest classrooms.

“We can socially distance our biggest class within the school however many kids that is,” Aikahi Principal Keoki Fraser said. “Twenty-plus kids if we brought them all out here at once, they could fit under here and have a class.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends utilizing outdoor spaces as one of their three higher-priority strategies. Even during the summer heat with last weekend’s trade wind-less weather bringing muggy conditions, Fraser says the space was comfortable.

“We were out here on Saturday when it was muggy,” said Fraser. “It was hot at twelve o’clock which is the hottest time of our day, and it was wonderful. The spaces were cool, they’re well lit, they’re inspirational, you can see the murals and they’re beautiful.”

On top of painting that mural parents, staff, and community members chipped in with volunteering supplies, funds, as well as their time.

“Through a very difficult situation here at our school we were able to say you know what this is something that we were able to do for our kids and it’s a feel-good story. We needed a feel-good story.” Fraser said.

A feel-good story but also a great idea to stop the spread of COVID-19 according to Hawaii COVID-19 expert Dr. Scott Miscovich.

“Absolutely we should use our trade winds, we should use our outdoors. That’s our ticket to getting back to school,” Dr. Miscovich said.

The Department of Education said Monday that they are looking for innovation like this.

“What we are encouraging teachers and staff to do is to take full advantage of the entire campus as learning spaces and defining those learning spaces,” DOE Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said.

Fraser says that he hopes other schools can follow Aikahi’s model and welcomes schools to reach out to him with any questions via the school’s Facebook page.

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