HONOLULU(KHON2) — Students have not yet spent a full week back on campus and COVID-19 cases are already forcing schools to take action.
Nearly half of all Ka’ohao School students are being asked to quarantine after three students tested positive in three different grades.
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Quarantining students is not how anyone wanted to begin the school year, but Winston Sakurai, Ka’ohao School director, said it is necessary to prevent the spread.
Ka’ohao School on Oahu’s Windward side notified parents on Friday, Aug. 6, that three students last on campus on Wednesday, Aug. 4, had COVID-19.
“We have cases in first, fourth and fifth grade,” Sakurai said. “We are trying to take every precaution to protect our school community, and continue learning for students by having a quarantine of certain classes on campus.”
Myles Breiner, who has twins at the school, said he agreed with what the school is doing.
“I think it’s appropriate, again I think they should have anticipated this,” Breiner said.
Sakurai said they were watching the situation closely and hoping for the best.
“What we were noticing the week before school opened for public schools, was that there was a huge rise in cases of COVID-19 in our community. And so we had hoped that this wouldn’t happen,” Sakuari explained. “But it’s not unexpected given that we need the entire community support to keep COVID out of the schools.”
According to Sakurai, it impacts roughly 144 out of the 330 students at the school. He has asked everyone in quarantine to get tested. They will be allowed to return to campus on Monday, Aug. 16, as long as they test negative.
“Now, they will be doing remote learning. We have excellent teachers, and they are preparing really hard to have an excellent learning experience for our students during this time where they’re away from campus,” he said.
The lieutenant governor said they are doing the right thing.
“Anytime there’s outbreaks in schools, every student in that classroom needs to be tested,” Green said. “And they will have to home isolate or quarantine until they’re cleared, just like any other close contact — that’s important. And we can keep control over things that way.”
Ka’ohao is not the only elementary school impacted by COVID.
The Department of Education reported at least 51 positive cases at 28 different elementary schools statewide during the first week of school. Those numbers do not include private schools or public charter schools like Ka’ohao.
“We have to be mindful of what happens at schools,” Green said. “We have to be very, very careful to see that children aren’t getting sick and hospitalized, as that’s what has happened in some other parts of the country.”
He added that if recommendations come down that the delta variant is too infectious to children ineligible to be vaccinated, the state will have to follow them.