Major unions combine to ask for delay in schools re-opening

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) – Just 13 days before Hawaii’s public schools reopen their doors to in-person learning on August 4, the Hawaii Government Employees Association and United Public Workers unions joined the Hawaii State Teachers Association in asking that opening of school buildings to students be delayed.

The unions are asking for written guidance from the Department of Health, staff training, supplies, equipment, and protocols for COVID-19 before schools can reopen.

Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said Tuesday that all schools are outfitted for reopening on August 4 for supplies and equipment, but HGEA employees say they need more time.

“We’re not saying that we don’t want to open,” Radford Principal James Sunday said.

“Give us time to work with our faculty and staff to make sure that we’re prepared to accept our students and making sure parents feel comfortable that their kids are in a safe environment, there’s guidelines in place.”

Educators say they want more details and training on what to do not only with COVID-19 procedures, but how to follow CDC guidelines.

“Speaking on behalf of educational assistants, we’re not clear how we can effectively do our jobs in the classroom with assisting our students if we have to adhere to CDC guidelines,” said Waimanalo Elementary & Intermediate Educational Assistant Kehau Makaila.

As it stands, Principal Sunday says teachers are scheduled to get a two-day administration period to learn the guidelines before the first day of school.

“We want to make sure we know what we’re doing and it’s not just crammed into a two day where we have admin days at school where teachers come and we try and filter all of this information through their ears and brains and say set up your classrooms, these are your PPE’s and this is how you’re going to handle students,” Sunday said.

The DOE is also allowing the first two weeks of instruction as half-days to provide training time.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield has said that the organization plans on releasing more guidelines on school re-openings this week, while the Hawaii DOH is using the CDC for guidance.

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