Reopening schools is a key part of the state’s overall plan to keep everyone safe while restarting the economy and getting people back to work. To do this, the state Department of Health, working with the Department of Education, has released guidance and metrics at health.hawaii.gov for school leaders to use in making decisions.
“We know that when schools begin in-person learning there will inevitably be positive cases,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, acting state epidemiologist. “All schools must be well prepared for this.” DOE Superintendent Christina Kishimoto emphasized that any return to campus would be “safe and strategic.”
Kishimoto said with the start of the second quarter in October, area complexes would use the metrics to determine transitioning from Learning from Home to Blended to In-Person Learning models with different thresholds for elementary and secondary students and regional approaches by island. The metrics can be applied to private as well as public schools.
Kemble said community transmission rates are just part of the decision making. Schools must also assess their ability to mitigate and prevent spread of the virus, including physical distancing, using face masks, establishing smaller student groups, cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, and having a communication plan when there is a positive case in the school.