HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) investigated a cluster of 30 COVID-19 cases connected to an elementary school on Oahu in August and September.
The DOH reported that, in a classroom full of 30 students and school staff, seven tested positive for COVID and one case exhibiting symptoms was “epidemiologically linked.” Additionally, 22 secondary cases were discovered among household members.
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Most kids do not get severely ill with COVID, but doctors have said they can be carriers even if they do not have symptoms.
“If you’re a nine-year-old, you could spread it to your mother or father or to your grandparents, you know, so our kupuna could still be vulnerable,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “So, it’s really good for kids to get vaccinated.”
Out of all 30 cases, six were vaccinated — one school staff member and five secondary cases. One of the secondary cases was unvaccinated and hospitalized.
According to the DOH, the school enforced several prevention strategies to help stop the spread of COVID: mask-wearing, physical distancing, as well as screening and testing being done on students, faculty and staff. However, the DOH found that the cases were linked to poor classroom ventilation.
Teachers reported shutting windows and closing doors in order to minimize outdoor noise levels and maintain air conditioning.
DOH officials said keeping windows and doors open to improve classroom ventilation and airflow — in addition to following COVID prevention strategies — can add “an extra layer of protection to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between students.”
“I probably would actually continue to air out the classrooms until the COVID crisis is fully past us,” Green added. “The most important thing that teachers have done, and they’ve done it well, is to get vaccinated.”
Green said there are roughly 80,000 eligible residents who remain unvaccinated and said it is not time to let our guards down — especially so close to the holiday season.
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