HONOLULU(KHON2) — Case counts are the highest they have been since the pandemic started. Students are set to resume in person classes, and there are no changes to COVID guidance plans for schools so far.
Around 193,000 kids will be back in classrooms next week, following winter break.
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In a statement, a Department of Education spokesperson said:
“Throughout the winter break, the Department has been working with the state Department of Health to closely monitor the potential impacts of the Omicron variant on students and staff scheduled to return to school next week. For planning purposes, we plan to issue an update later this week to let families know how we are approaching this situation and the safety controls that schools have in place.”
McKinley High School Principal Ron Okamura said he hasn’t heard any official word on reinstating distance learning yet.
“We just are given a heads up to kind of monitor the situation,” Okamura said.
Okamura said he sent out a letter to families and faculty Tuesday reminding them the importance of doing health checks before coming to campus.
Private schools are also following current guidelines, waiting for more guidance from the state.
“I don’t see us changing anything right now, unless the State Department of Health decides to update their guidance, because those are the policies that we tend to follow,” explained Saint Louis Principal Devin Oshiro.
Oshiro added that Saint Louis will continue to offer distance learning options to students like they have been doing since the pandemic started.
Not all parents are worried about sending their kids back to school.
Marc Carreira has two kids. One is a ninth grader at Moanalua High School, and the other is an eleventh grader at Castle High School.
“We’re not concerned with school resuming at all,” Carreira said.
He said his kids had a very difficult time coping when they were forced to distance learn at the start of the pandemic and he doesn’t want them to go through that again.
KHON: “So you think it’s more detrimental to keep the kids home then to go back to distance learning?”
“Absolutely more detrimental,” Carreira said. “There’s nothing positive that’s going to come out of it.”
According to DOE, 162 cases were reported between Dec. 18 and Dec. 27 at public schools statewide, classes were not in session during that time.
The plan on the DOE website outlines their protocol for handling positive cases and close contacts.
The guidelines state that schools must notify those in close contact to positive cases and those infected, have to quarantine for 10 days.
Unvaccinated close contacts must also quarantine for 10 days, while vaccinated close contacts are not required to quarantine unless symptoms develop. Both are required to test five to seven days after exposure.
Oshiro said Saint Louis would consider adopting the CDC Test-to-Stay program, if the health department suggests it.
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Test-to-Stay allows kids to remain in school after exposure to COVID, as long as they continue to test negative. It’s meant to prevent learning loss due to absenteeism.