Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Distance Learning to Continue to End of School Year

April 17, 2020, 6:24 PM HST
* Updated April 17, 6:42 PM
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Superintendent of Schools Christina Kishimoto speaks about phase I of DOE’s plan to compensate Hawai’i’s educators. PC: Facebook Live screen grab

Distance learning at Hawai‘i’s public and charter schools will continue to the end of the 2019-20 school year.

The Hawai‘i Department of Education started the alternative learning curriculum a week after spring break amid the threat of potential spread of COVID-19 in schools. During a press conference Friday, HDOE Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said there are 180,000 students engaged in distance learning, educational packets and other approaches. This will continue through May 28, the last day of school.

With commencement approaching, each school high school will share the approach they’re going to take, while ensuring its a safe and healthy environment in which the students can be celebrated.

“In Hawai‘i, high school graduation is an important milestone, a time for celebration with family and friends,” said Gov. David Ige during the press conference. “During this pandemic, unfortunately, it will be very different. Our thoughts are with Hawaii’s high school seniors.”

Approximately 11,000 students are set to graduate.

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“We know this is very difficult for everyone,” Ige said. “To our future leaders of Hawaii, please know that we are in this together. And when this is over, we will celebrate your achievements with you.”

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Summer school will also be a distance learning approach, which will provide an opportunity for credit recovery. Students who are not performing on grade level already have the opportunity to work with teachers individually, Kishimoto said.

Additionally, Kishimoto announced a new Telehealth hotline of nurses will be operational at the end of April for DOE students. The new service will allow a nurse to connect with a student, determine their health or emotional needs and assist them appropriately.

Kishimoto doesn’t know what the 2020-21 academic year will look like as far as bringing students back to the classroom or continued distance learning.

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“It’s not just about if social distancing,” she said, adding it’s how students transition back into the traditional school setting.

Kishimoto said there are constant discussions about what supports are needed at a school level. Principals at each school are taking the lead on what their individual needs might be.

Kishimoto said she was aware of the discussion of proposed wage cuts to teachers. The DOE is part of the state’s team that’s looking at the finances.

Kishimoto said the DOE has already been limiting their expenditures and tracking their savings. As they go into the next school, the superintendent anticipates having a bulk of savings carried over from the 2019-20 school year.

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