HSTA files complaint over plan for teachers to return to school next week

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2 ) — Governor David Ige said public school students will be back to school on March 30th, but teachers, who are scheduled to be back in school next week say that’s too soon.

They say going back to school so soon can put teachers, students and families at risk.

The teachers union, Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA), has filed a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.

They say a clause in their contact states they cannot be required to work if doing so imminently endangers their health or safety.

Gov. Ige said in a press conference Tuesday, that there would be too many impacts if they close schools, so he’s proposing social distancing be implemented.

“It is about changing schedules for example recess, rather than having the entire school out at the same time for recess, it would be assigning different classes to different parts of the campus, staggering recess, staggering lunch periods so that those that would gather in the cafeteria would be significantly smaller,” said Gov. Ige.

However, HSTA president Cory Rosenlee said with some classrooms already crowded, social distancing would be hard to do.

In a statement, Rosenlee said:

“As a teacher at Hawaii’s largest school, Campbell High, which has 3,000-plus students, I have had to teach more than 40 students in one period. I know social distancing won’t work. I have heard from kindergarten teachers who have shared that trying to stop kindergartners from touching their noses and then wanting to give you a hug is impossible.”

Gov. Ige is also relying on parents to do their part.

“If their children are sick, [let them] stay at home. Parents should be taking the temperatures of their children every day,” said Gov. Ige.

He is also asking for temperature checks in schools.

“We have appropriate measures so that should a child appear at school who has a fever or is sick, that we can separate them from the other children and reduce the risk of infection,” said Gov. Ige.

He adds the Department of Education is also considering coronavirus screenings in school, but that’s something they’re still working through.

With teachers due back in school in less than a week, HSTA said it’s still weighing its options before advising its members what to do.

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