School preparations may be different due to COVID-19 this year

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Many students are still in summer school, but with some school supply lists for the next year going out, many are already looking to the next school year. There is a lot of uncertainty and questions surrounding it.

While things like hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes have been on school supply lists in the past, due to COVID-19 this year, they may be more difficult to find. Logan Okita, who teaches first grade at Nimitz elementary, said it’s better to start looking for them now.

“[Start] to pick it up now rather than when the school year starts. I’ve already started stocking up on a few things,” said Okita.

Okita said while school lists may look the same with supplies like crayons and notebooks, this year teachers may ask for a bit more.

 “This is definitely a time where we ask that crayons and pencils to be individually labeled with your child’s name. It’s going to be really important because you don’t want them unnecessarily sharing supplies with other children,” said Okita.

There may be even more changes when kids enter the classroom. Shared supply baskets and even libraries may have to be eliminated.

Okita’s usual handwashing lessons and lessons about spreading germs will no longer be just during the flu season.

“Those lessons will definitely happen at the beginning of the year and they’ll include how to safely use hand sanitizer and any of the other health procedures we put into place by the [Department of Education],” said Okita.

Something being considered are masks.

The Department of Health said it doesn’t recommend them being used by younger kids while in class but said they should be used outdoors such as during recess or on the bus.

It’s still working through the recommendations for older students, since switching classes will expose them to more people.

The Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DOE) are working together to come up with a plan.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) is also making recommendations.

“I think we’re going to need to wait for the superintendent to come out with her guidelines and her opening guidance, and what she decides along with HSTA in terms of our negotiations,” said Okita.

In the meantime, Okita said she’s looking at additional changes to address social distancing, but some things won’t change.

 “When we have your child in our classroom we care about them and make sure that whatever we are doing is going to keep them safe,” said Okita.

Public school students are slated to return to class the first week of August.  The Department of Education tells KHON its plans for the new school year will be released soon.

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