‘Return to Learn’: Public schools look to different models

Posted on Jul 29, 2020 in Capitol Connection, Featured
Superintendent Kishimoto with reopening plans.

Superintendent Kishimoto with reopening plans. Photo: Eliot Honda

It’s all hands on deck to deliver learning safely and effectively when Hawai‘i’s students return to school this month. From the bus drivers and custodians to teachers and staff — the goal is to create as healthy an environment as possible, said Hawai‘i Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. “Our models are based on the state being in the ‘Act with Care’ level of alertness,” she said. This includes wearing masks when possible, physical distancing and regular hand washing as well as deep cleaning of classrooms. As Guy Figueroa, Kapolei Middle School’s head custodian, said, “The pandemic has changed everything we do. It’s a challenge, but we’re up for it. We’ll clean from top to bottom. It’s something we got to do for the kids and our staff.”

Guy Figueroa, Kapolei Middle School head custodian, describes the precautions being taken to protect students, teachers and staff.

Guy Figueroa, Kapolei Middle School head custodian, describes the precautions being taken to protect students, teachers and staff.

The school approaches include face-to-face learning and various blended designs, where in-person and online learning are provided on a rotating basis. Priority for in-person instruction will go to K-2 students and vulnerable students who need extra support. Parents who select the virtual-only option need to work with their home school to commit to a program where students can earn a credit or grade. Superintendent Kishimoto said the pandemic has also revealed the need for more technology access among families. “Some students have tech at home while others have no connectivity,” she said. The DOE has ordered more devices for students and plans to build its “equity of access” plan around digital learning. It’s also launching an ‘Ohana Help Desk,” with a hotline and email for parents having tech difficulties at home. “If we can improve the tech skills of our families, that helps our ‘ohana, our communities and the entire state to advance economic development.” For more details, go to the Return to Learn: School Reopening Plan.

Read more in the August Capitol Connection newsletter

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