Big Island Coronavirus Updates

UH System Moves Online-Only for Remainder of Semester

March 18, 2020, 1:47 PM HST
* Updated March 18, 3:12 PM
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Education via the University of Hawai‘i System will be an exclusively online experience for at least the rest of the 2020 spring semester.

UH President David Lassner and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Ken Hon sent digital messages to faculty just before noon on Wednesday outlining that all classes will move to online-only instruction by Monday, March 23.

“I realize that originally you were informed we were considering some special case courses to remain face-to-face delivery,” Hon wrote. “For continuity and fairness to students who may have left campus, we are asking that all courses go online next week.”

“I would encourage all faculty to use next week as a time to get comfortable with the remote delivery modality you and your students have decided works best,” he continued.

The initial plan was to keep students out of the classroom until April 13. However, in the six days since Lassner’s original announcement, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has jumped to 16 across Hawai‘i, all state public schools have been closed until at least April 7 and Gov. David Ige, along with nearly 100 healthcare professionals, have strongly suggested non-essential businesses close or alter operations.

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The choice, beyond one of fairness, was made to limit social interaction as much as possible, Lassner continued. Campuses, however, will remain open to students and employees. Public events with more than 100 people on campus were banned last week. Guidelines for gatherings could be adjusted moving forward.

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Educators within the system say the transition will be difficult, as some classes aren’t suited for online instruction and some instructors have little to no experience teaching remotely. However, those with experience teaching online courses have offered their help as part of the transition.

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