Local colleges to implement ‘bubble quarantine’ for out-of-state students to attend class

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Governor David Ige announced Monday he is delaying the mandatory travel quarantine at least until September. However, with thousands of students set to return to Hawaii from the mainland and abroad to attend local colleges in August, these colleges are making new rules to adhere to the quarantine guidelines.

Major colleges and universities in Hawaii will be introducing what is called a “modified bubble quarantine” for students flying in. The Hawaii Department of Health worked with universities to create the program. It will allow students to still attend classes and orientations in person, while still completing their 14-day mandatory quarantine.

For the University of Hawaii, out-of-state students will be allowed to be part of the bubble if they can provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of their flight departure into the state.

“With that negative test, they would be allowed to attend university activities only. Other than that, they would remain in their place of residence,” said David Lassner, University of Hawaii president.

It will be up to the school to make sure that the students are following the rules.

“A really key aspect of the program is that we will be required to do daily health checks of each and every one of our students participating in this program,” said Lassner.

The health check will ask if students have any COVID-19 symptoms, if they had close contact with someone who has tested positive, and remind students to comply with state and county regulations, like following the 14-day quarantine.

The University of Hawaii, which usually sees thousands of out-of-state students said it will be doing these daily checks on the University of Hawaii app to expedite the process and will have staff to check daily.

However, some students are choosing other options.

Johanna Leo, a returning student, is flying from Texas to Hawaii this weekend so she can be out of quarantine by the time classes start.

“It changes a lot of things for people. I’m glad I made plans this way, I guess, but I know that’s not going to be [the same] for everybody,” said Leo.

She said she is anxious to see how the university will kick off classes and if any more changes will be made along the semester.

“Everything with COVID-19 is constantly evolving,” said Leo. “That’s something that’s giving me a lot of stress… that uncertainty of where things are going, not knowing whether those guidelines are going to change.”

Right now, University of Hawaii is only offering the bubble option for students attending campuses on Oahu and Kauai. An agreement still has to be made with Maui and Hawaii island on if they will allow colleges to do a modified bubble quarantine.

At the Governor’s press conference, Lassner said more details are still being worked out for the program, including an option for students who can’t get tested before flying in to get tested after arriving in Hawaii.

Other schools including Hawaii Pacific University, Chaminade University and Brigham Young University are also working on similar quarantine bubbles for their students with more information to come out soon.

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