Schools, colleges stay strong for a new generation

Posted on Dec 30, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
Governor and Mrs. Ige congratulated the 2022 Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year, Whitney Aragaki, and 16 other district finalists virtually Dec. 3. Aragaki teaches AP environmental science at her alma mater, Waiākea High School in Hilo.

Governor and Mrs. Ige congratulated the 2022 Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year, Whitney Aragaki, and 16 other district finalists virtually Dec. 3. Aragaki teaches AP environmental science at her alma mater, Waiākea High School in Hilo.

Whitney Aragaki, 2022 Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year, will represent the state at the national finals in the spring.

Whitney Aragaki, 2022 Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year, will represent the state at the national finals in the spring.

Public schools welcome back students – The smiles said it all as students, teachers and staff finally returned in person to campuses statewide. The DOE worked closely with the DOH to ensure public schools could reopen safely. Many schools launched student vaccination efforts and provided case counts for parents and the public. All students received free breakfast and lunch meals, thanks to a nationwide waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The waiver aimed to minimize possible spread of COVID-19 by eliminating meal payment transactions in school cafeterias.

Also, the Hawai‘i State Public Library System retooled its services and enabled patrons to access more ebooks, movies, virtual storytimes and educational resources for students learning remotely. It also added new kinds of collections and expects all public libraries will have ‘ukuleles to lend to their community in 2022. The libraries are also working with their partners to advance digital equity and literacy and will lead the NGA Workforce Innovation Network grant to support digital skill development for a 21st century workforce.

‘Iolani School will be working with 17 other schools statewide to prepare more students for careers in biotechnology.

‘Iolani School will be working with 17 other schools statewide to prepare more students for careers in biotechnology.

GEER grants spur innovation – Teachers on all islands have continued to prove their resilience in spite of — and sometimes because of — the pandemic. The 31 projects, funded by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) grants, build on Governor Ige’s “Blueprint for Education.” The projects range from STEM education and ‘aina-based learning to innovations in small business development and restorative justice.“With so many schools involved, we wanted these projects to create a real community of innovators to carry us into the future,” said the governor.

UH system sees enrollment gains and fans in the stands – Driven by large gains at UH Mānoa, enrollment for the 10-campus UH system increased for the first time in a decade this past year. Spring 2022 plans include a return to in-person learning for the colleges (depending on COVID-19 case counts) with safety protocols in place. UH sports programs also initiated protocols to welcome fully vaccinated or tested sports fans to events. As the pandemic continued, so did the contributions of the UH system’s community. Some 1,000 UH health professionals and student volunteers from the John A. Burns School of Medicine, UH Hilo College of Pharmacy, and nursing programs from seven campuses helped vaccinate thousands of Hawai‘i residents. UH faculty and staff have also been doing work on developing effective vaccines, advising government agencies on best practices, and studying the economic, social and psychological effects of the pandemic.

Read more in the January Capitol Connection newsletter.

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