HONOLULU(KHON2) — Public transportation and airports are no longer requiring masks but public schools are. The Department of Education plans to keep the indoor mask mandate in place until the end of this school year.
Some said it’s unfair to students who see the rest of the world enjoying life without masks at indoor events.
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While most places, including public transportation, ditched mask requirements, the DOE is keeping their’s in place. In a letter from the DOE sent to parents, Keith Hayashi, DOE interim superintendent said:
“While we are eager to return to normalcy, we will continue to implement universal indoor masking in schools through Friday, May 27, 2022 (last day for teachers).”
He added that, “The state Department of Health (DOH) still highly recommends that masks be worn indoors at all times at schools.”
Jenny Orebaugh is a substitute teacher with two kids in public school. She said she’s frustrated.
“It’s confusing for the kids, it’s not fair, Orebaughh said. “We saw the Super Bowl, we saw the Oscars, we see the Grammys , we see the State of the Union address what kind of message is it to them?”
Kyle Foyle, who’s son attends Sunset Elementary School said it should be a matter of choice.
“It just needs to stop,” Foyle said. “It needs to go to optional. That’s all it should be. If they can allow people traveling from all different parts of the world to be in one place. And that’s okay without a mask. But our kids that are in their own community with the kids they are going to play with after school, before school, on the weekends, without their masks. I think it’s illegal overreach.”
The teacher’s union president Osa Tui, Jr. said they agree with the DOE.
“We’re in the middle of April and school ends at the end of May,” said Tui. “So there’s just a little more time to go. And we’ve been through this for so long that we can hold up for just a little longer.”
Tui said according to a pole HSTA took, the majority of teachers prefer to keep the indoor mask mandate in place.
“One of the mantras we’ve been holding is: Safety our students deserve,” said Tui. “That’s something that we want to continue to tell our students, continue to be able to say, it’s all about your safety. Making sure that our students are safe, going forward.”
The daily COVID case average has increased from 87 to 164 in the last four weeks.
A spokesperson for DOH said cases are under reported since most are doing at home tests. He said they “do not know exactly how much COVID is in the community, but they are sure it’s more than they are reporting.”
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DOH said dropping the mask mandate is one of the reasons for the uptick in cases.