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O‘ahu Public Schools Will Start Fall Semester With Distance Learning

August 7, 2020, 3:00 PM HST
* Updated August 7, 6:25 PM
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Gov. David Ige

Public schools on O‘ahu will start the 2020-21 school year with distance learning for the first four weeks, Gov. David Ige announced during a press conference Friday afternoon.

The first day of school statewide remains Aug. 17. O‘ahu public schools will switch to a blended learning model on Sept. 14. The switch to fully online learning was made as a result of the surge in COVID-19 cases on O‘ahu.

Conversations have begun on neighbor islands and each county will determine whether there is a strong rationale to follow O‘ahu’s plan, said State Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. Plans for each county will be discussed next week.

“Each solution is to be catered to each county as the virus is acting differently on each island,” Ige added.

This plan, Kishimoto said, will drastically reduce the number of students who will be on campus for the first four weeks.

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“I appreciate the support and shared commitment of this plan,” Kishimoto said. “Our complex superintendents (on O‘ahu) came together to pull this plan together collaboratively.”

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Ige asks the entire community to support the schools, adding to be committed to helping them be successful.

“These are challenging times,” Ige said. “This is a marathon and we will be living with COVID for the foreseeable future.”

O‘ahu schools will open in three phases.

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First phase, in-person training (Aug. 17-20): During the first week of school, students will physically return to campus on a coordinated and scheduled basis, determined by each individual school, to connect with their teacher, receive training on the distance learning platforms, and address issues with connectivity and access to technology. Special considerations will be given to vulnerable students and their families for more in-person access to the school and teachers.

Starting on Aug. 17, Oahu cafeterias will be serving only grab-and-go meals; in-person dining will not be allowed. After-school programs will be suspended until students return to in-person blended learning models.

Second phase, ready to learn (Aug. 24-Sept. 11): For the remainder of the four-week period, full distance learning will be implemented. Staff will report to their designated work sites for continued distance learning instruction. Special education services that cannot be provided in a distance learning format will be available in person. Supervised in-person learning labs at schools will be available for students who do not have WiFi access.

Third phase, transition to blended learning (Sept. 14): HIDOE will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with the Governor’s Office and the Hawaii State Department of Health to assess whether or not students can safely return to in-person blended learning models. If distance learning will continue for the remainder of the first quarter of school, an announcement will be made on Sept. 8.

“It is our mission to ensure that all students in Hawaii have equitable access to a quality education, even amidst this pandemic,” Kishimoto said. “Learning must take place as we continue to safeguard our island community. Mahalo to our students, teachers, staff and school communities for their continued support and flexibility during these challenging times.”

Ige reminded Hawaii residents to take personal responsibility in the fight against COVID-19. He urged wearing a mask, staying when sick, washing hands and no socializing.

“Stay home as much as possible,” the governor stated.

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