Hawaii DOE to spend millions upgrading facilities for full return to in-person learning

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Department of Education (DOE) plans to spend millions to upgrade facilities and purchase fans to keep students cool as they all return to in-person learning in fall 2021.

More than 179,000 students will head back to campuses across Hawaii for in person learning in August.

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Many may also return to cooler classrooms thanks to much-needed and overdue upgrades.

“The department is also in the process of procuring box fans for each classroom statewide and has provided guidance on how to properly use the CO2 monitors and box fans to promote even greater air circulation and air quality in the rooms,” superintendent Kishimoto said.

Schools like Campbell High School have dealt with stuffy, hot classrooms for years.

Campuses also need electrical upgrades to provide that relief, which Kishimoto said are coming.

“Currently there are 52 planned electric upgrade projects with an estimated cost of $60 million,” she said

Kishimoto said they are a priority because schools are worried about children overheating in classrooms due to poor air circulation.

Although all students are expected to be back on campus, the superintendent said they will still offer limited distance learning options, just in case.

Parents should work with their school to find out what is available.

“We know we have some schools already that are stretched with current staff and are getting ready fully reopen and have the full scope of offerings and are struggling with finding a way to have a teacher lead distance learning approach,” she said

Another big topic of debate — masks.

Kalani teacher Brooke Nasser said it is not easy being in a mask in a hot classroom.

“Next year, we’re going to be in the classroom in the hottest months, which we weren’t last year,” Nasser pointed out. “So we’re gonna have to be dealing with the usual the classrooms are too hot August, September complaints that we get every year. Plus will be potentially in mask that’s going to, I think, cause some challenges for everyone.”

Kishimoto said they are working with the Health Department regarding mask usage. They may lift the rule for outdoor areas, but students will likely still have to wear them inside.

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