HONOLULU(KHON2) — The goal this school year was always full in-person learning, but the recent spike in COVID cases is forcing many to reevaluate things.
“We just started distance learning today,” Connections Public Charter School Principal Romeo Garcia said. “We began the school year full in person. And so we’ve been open for two weeks. And so we had our first positive COVID case reported within our school yesterday.”
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According to Garcia, that one case triggered their school protocol shifting all 365 students in kindergarten through 12th grade to online classes.
“The adjustment was easier because we experienced this last year,” Garcia said. “We’ve had our online platform operating this whole time and last year.”
He said the transition went smoothly cause everyone knew the plan.
“As I said, to our staff, and teachers and students on the very first day of beginning of the year,” he recalled. “I said, ‘Well, we’re going to open on Monday, but we could close on Tuesday. So be ready. ‘”
The goal is to resume in person classes Aug. 30. Garcia said they are prepared to continue virtually for as long as it takes.
“We’re educators, and we know how to do that well,” he explained. “We really approached it from how do we protect our keiki? How do we protect our ohana? How do we keep everybody safe? And if that means it’s just the spread is too much in the community, then we have to stay home.”
Kamaile Academy Public Charter School also announced they were shifting their more than 900 students to online classes starting Aug. 18 through Sept. 13 after several positive cases were reported there.
Out of 37 charter schools in the state, seven opted to go back to distance learning according to the spokesperson for the Hawaiʻi State Public Charter School Commission.
- Connections Public Charter School (Hilo)
- Hakipuʻu Academy (Kāneʻohe)
- Hālau Kū Māna Public Charter School (Honolulu/Makiki)
- Kamaile Academy (Waiʻanae)
- Ka Waihona ʻo Ka Naʻauao (Nānākuli)
- Ke Ana Laʻahana Public Charter School (Hilo)
- Ke Kula ʻo Samuel M. Kamakau Laboratory Public Charter School (Kāneʻohe)
Charter schools do not operate under the Department of Education.
In a statement, DOE said:
“The Department remains focused and committed to ensuring safe in-person learning for all students. In the event of a school closure or unexpected emergency, distance learning remains an option.”
They reported 430 COVID cases linked to schools in the first two weeks of the new school year.
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Most schools are offering distance learning options but they are limited. DOE is developing a program to meet the increased demand.