For 4 weeks, all Oahu public school students will have to completely distance learn starting Aug. 17

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — When Oahu public schools resume August 17, they will do it 100 percent online according to an announcement made by Governor David Ige Friday.

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The decision to shift from a blended school schedule to one consisting only of distance learning comes after cases of COVID-19 continue to surge.

Earlier Friday morning, the Hawaii State Teachers Association urged state officials to take action fearing for the safety of teachers and students and claiming there would be dire consequences if students returned to campus for classes.

“We are most concerned about the lives of every one of our students,” said Corey Rosenlee, HSTA president. “We are heading for disaster if we try to move to face-to-face learning.”

Friday afternoon, Governor David Ige and Hawaii DOE Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto announced that Oahu public schools would offer 100 percent distance learning to students at the start of the fall semester.

“The first day of school for students statewide remains August 17 as planned. However on that day, all Oahu public schools will be implementing full distance learning models for the first four weeks of the school year,” explained Kishimoto.

The decision includes Oahu public schools only. Neighbor island schools will continue with their blended learning schedules as planned according to Kishimoto.

Kishimoto said the return to learn plan in Honolulu would move forward in three phases.

The first phase would allow students to connect on campus, in person, with teachers August 17th through the 20.

“During the first four days of school, students will physically return to school on a coordinated and scheduled basis. This time will be used to connect with the teacher, practice learning on a distance learning platform and address any issues with connectivity.”

Kishimoto said that students who do not need online help, do not have to go to campus.

The second phase includes distance learning from August 24 through September 11.

Phase three involves transitioning to blended learning starting September 14, but Kishimoto said it is subject to change depending on the number of COVID-19 cases. That will be determined on September 8th.

Governor Ige said he realizes the challenges that the community is facing.

“I know that keeping students at home will be another burden and clearly the uncertainty stresses all of us. But with this recent surge on Oahu, I do believe that this is the right approach,” Ige said.

Rachel Coel has children in public school. She is concerned that some kids may be overlooked.

“I worry about those families who don’t have internet access, who don’t have computers. Those kids especially are going to fall through the cracks and aren’t going to receive an education that they have a legal right to.”

Kishimoto said accommodations will be made for students who don’t have internet access at home and to those who do not have a computer or a device to do their distance learning classes from.

Many parents like Joey Lee are in favor of online schooling for health reasons, but she said she also worries how distance learning and not having that vital interaction will impact kids in other ways down the road.

“I don’t think there’s a right or wrong at this point. I think everybody’s just trying to keep safe and we all want this to end. I do think this is the safest option at the moment. Whether it’s the best option, I think we all have yet to see,” said Lee.

For help, the department launched the Ohana Help Desk to provide self-service and chat support for families who are having issues connecting to HIDOE systems remotely from home.

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