Manoa teacher wants others to be inspired by safe classroom setup


Haililani Latu

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Haililani Latu is a second-grade teacher at Manoa Elementary School. She said she is nervous heading into the new school year because she is high-risk as she is expecting her second child in November. She spent the summer with her mother making sure her classroom was not only safe for herself, but for her students as well.

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“I felt like we didn’t need to do this, but as a teacher who is high risk, I just wanted to make sure that my classroom was as safe as possible,” Latu said.

She said she had extra plexi glass from her home and some Velcro and they created barriers for each student’s desk.

“We made it so it has windows because if you didn’t put windows in, then we wouldn’t know what the students are doing behind it so at least they can see up and that they’re not hiding or anything,” she said.

Mrs. Latu’s family donated some of the supplies that she handmade to make her classroom safer. Out of pocket, she said she spent about $500 on items like bins so each student’s supplies can go into the bins once school is over for the day. She also spent money on shower curtains and a clothing rack for when students have to make a presentation in front of the class, and she switched one of the clocks to colors with the second hand only, so it shows how long 20 seconds is while students wash their hands.

“I didn’t mind because I feel like safety comes first and when the kids come to my class I want to make sure that number one is to educate them, but second is to also keep them safe,” she said. “So, I’m going to also try and do everything in my power that I can control to keep them safe.”

All desks in her classroom are six-feet apart, the Velcro is to keep the barriers in place since windows are required to be open at all times, and students put their supplies in their binds when they are done for the day.  

Mrs. Latu said the two-week delay is helpful so other teachers have time to prepare their rooms.

“Us teachers, we’re trying our best to make it as safe as possible,” she said.

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