Mayor Wants Distance Learning on Maui for First Four Weeks of School

August 11, 2020, 7:58 AM HST · Updated August 11, 7:58 AM
Wendy Osher · 41 Comments
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By Wendy Osher

Mayor Victorino said he’s asking the Governor to implement a similar distance learning approach as the one approved on Oʻahu for the first four weeks of the school year.

“I am going to put a letter together to the governor that we take the same action as they did for Oʻahu with distance learning for whenever and wherever possible for the first four weeks; and then look at reopening once we get our numbers under control or get some kind of procedures in place where we can feel confident should any outbreak occur, it would protect the children and all of the staff, teachers, whomever the families of that particular school,” said Mayor Victorino.

This comes as the various complex area superintendents on the neighbor islands meet this week with the state Department of Education to assess reopening plans.  Public schools across the state are set to begin instruction on Aug. 17.

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At the University of Hawaiʻi, Faculty across the 10 campus system, including UH Maui College in Kahului, are requested to assess any current requirements for on-campus instruction to determine if those instructional components can be moved online.

Similarly, students are asked to review and revise their fall course schedules to take all or as many courses online as possible, while staying on-track for on-time achievement of their degree or certificate.

This message was shared with the students, faculty, and staff of the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi system on August 10, 2020.  The full text of his message is posted below:

When UH announced plans for fall 2020 we expected that the State and the country would be in a better place with respect to controlling COVID-19. We knew then that our highly modified semester would include extensive use of technology, and we also knew that we would need to be flexible. And our faculty responded to the call, already planning for the vast majority of fall instruction to take place online. In addition, we have reduced the presence of employees on our campuses by staggering presence in offices and enabling many to work from home.

Unfortunately, during these last weeks Hawaiʻi has seen a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases reported, particularly on Oʻahu. UH leadership monitors multiple factors during our regular COVID-19 planning calls. In addition to the case numbers and a number of emergent hotspots, most alarmingly, last Friday two major hospitals reported that their Intensive Care Units (ICUs) were at or near capacity.

UH is therefore announcing the maximal reduction of unnecessary presence on our campuses with the following new directions:

    • Faculty are requested to assess any current requirements for on-campus instruction to determine if those instructional components can be moved online, with the assistance of campus support staff as needed. The only classes conducted wholly or partly in person to start this fall semester should be those that require physical presence, such as clinical experiences in the health professions, laboratories in the sciences, studios in the arts, and shops in career and technical education. In these and other such cases there must be full adherence to the guidelines released this summer for physical distancing, facial coverings and cleaning/sanitizing.
    • Students are requested to review and revise their fall course schedules to take all or as many courses online as possible while staying on-track for on-time achievement of their degree or certificate. If there are any questions, students should contact their advisor on their home campus.
    • Employees and supervisors are requested to continue and maximize the use of the COVID-19-work-from-home option indefinitely whenever the necessary work of the university can be done from off-campus.

And of course, we urgently need everyone to promote the health of our community through safe practices: stay home if you are sick; wear a facial covering; and wash your hands. More information will be forthcoming about daily on-line check-ins via a new UH app or website.

UH is essential to helping the state recover from the social and economic impacts of this pandemic and to shaping a positive future for Hawaiʻi. Since the start of the pandemic, we have been focused on the health and safety of our students and employees even as we have remained committed to our absolutely critical mission of excellence in education, research and service to our islands. These new directions continue our commitments while responding to the reality of the latest developments of the pandemic in Hawaiʻi.

E mālama pono,
David Lassner, UH President

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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