Teachers union applauds Leilehua High School’s zero-tolerance mask policy

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Starting Thursday, Leilehua High School will have a zero-tolerance policy on mask wearing. Some say other schools should do the same, while others say it’s over the top.

The principal sent a letter to parents saying students who don’t wear their mask properly on campus will be cited. Those who are cited face detention, and repeat offenders could get suspended.

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“They just want to let us wear our mask over our nose. We can’t take it off at recess when we run,” said student Taimane Docktor.

The teachers union says this is an ongoing problem at many high schools and middle schools, so the zero-tolerance policy should be implemented by the Department of Education (DOE).

“It’s one of the strategies that the Hawaii Department of Education put out and is what we’re following to prevent COVID spread, and so every campus should be enforcing that policy,” said Logan Okita, HSTA vice president.

She adds teachers already have their hands full getting the students to do everything else that they’re supposed to be doing, so a stronger message will help.

“They don’t feel they’re backed up by anyone when they try to enforce the policy, so a policy like the one at Leilehua High School would allow teachers to have some standing when they ask their students to pull their mask up and wear them properly on campus,” said Okita.

Some parents, though, say that punishing the students by ultimately suspending them seems over the top.

“I hope nobody would threaten my daughter like that because she does have rights of what she needs to do. If they’re going to be strict like that then I’ll just go back to homeschooling,” said parent Zachariah Docktor.

A spokeswoman for DOE says all schools should follow health and safety guidelines which include proper mask wearing, but it’s up to the principal on how to implement them. The teachers union says the rules should be spelled out the way it was done last school year.

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“HSTA would love to have a conversation with the DOE about masking policies and other safety measures like we had in our Memorandum of Understanding that expired over the summer,” said Okita.

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