Hawai‘i Public School Buildings to Remain Closed to April 30

March 24, 2020, 2:58 PM HST · Updated March 24, 3:23 PM
Wendy Osher · 4 Comments
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The Hawaiʻi Department of Education continues to adjust schedules as conditions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic evolve.

Hawaiʻi DOE Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said that while public school system remains open, public school buildings across the state will remain closed through April 30th, in conjunction with the state’s stay-at-home order.

Dr. Kishimoto said the DOE is still hoping a return to instruction as soon as they are able, and is developing a multi-faceted approach to instruction, to include an e-system featuring virtual field trips, reading online and print out packets for students with no access to a computer.

The DOE plans to begin distributing packets for students with no computer access starting next week, in a staggered approach, with drop of for some rural areas planned.  This will not be a generic distribution system, but will be done by individual schools who will oversee and monitor their group of students.

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The department is still discussing the possibility of utilizing limited existing spaces to address the needs of students who are unable to do remote instruction or may need specialized services.  This is being done in an effort to avoid some of students being placed in a hospital setting.

Dr. Kishimoto expressed a need to maintain services noting that 50% of students at or below the poverty level, including 3,000 students who are homeless or in temporary home situations.

Below is a press release issued by the state Department of Education this afternoon explaining the decision in further detail:

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) announced today school facilities will remain closed to students through April 30, based on the latest guidance and information from health officials and elected leaders. Traditional, in-school instruction is on hold until schools reopen. 

“I want to thank each and every one of the Department’s 44,000 employees for working in new ways during these unprecedented times,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “These are uncertain and anxious circumstances for everyone in our communities and we sincerely appreciate your patience as our response to this health crisis continues to evolve and we make the needed adjustments for health and safety.” 

The Department, along with charter schools, will be sending out information about enrichment opportunities, including online resources and printed material resources such as instructional packets. Parents and guardians are encouraged to look out for information from their child’s school and teachers. Tips and tools gathered by HIDOE’s Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design are also available for the public at bit.ly/HIDOEVirtualLearningParentResource.

Special education services

Schools will ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the same enrichment opportunities as their peers. Schools are working toward providing the most appropriate modifications and accommodations under the circumstances. Related services that can be provided via telepractice will be considered on a case-by-case basis for students who have qualified for these services. When school resumes in its traditional manner, Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Section 504 teams will meet to determine if there was a loss of skills as a result of the extended school closure, and the need for compensatory education. 

Grab-and-go meal school sites

Nine additional sites will begin breakfast and lunch service Wednesday, March 25. Parents and caregivers who come to pick up a meal must be accompanied by a child. Meals will not be served Thursday, March 26, which is Prince Kuhio Day. For the complete list of sites, click here

By the end of this week, the Department will be sharing specific plans to ensure its 10,000 eligible high school graduates can earn diplomas. The Department will also provide next-level information based on the planning work accomplished by schools, complex areas and state offices for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

“We remain focused on and committed to our educational mission and we look forward to resuming instruction and a sense of normalcy as quickly as possible,” Kishimoto added.

HIDOE COVID-19 updates will continue to be posted on the Department’s website at hawaiipublicschools.org

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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