Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Kamehameha Schools’ Hawai‘i Island Campus Issues Lockdown

August 12, 2020, 5:34 PM HST
* Updated August 12, 8:02 PM
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Kamehameha School Big Island Campus. PC: KSBE

NOTE: This article has been updated to include a letter sent from Kamehameha Schools to parents following a reported case of COVID-19 in one of the school’s Big Island students Wednesday. 

Kamehameha Schools’ Hawai‘i Island Campus in Kea‘au went into lockdown Wednesday morning after a high school student there tested positive for coronavirus, Big Island Now has learned.

An employee who works at the school and asked to remain anonymous so as to speak candidly confirmed the news to Big Island Now on Wednesday evening.

The school enforced the lockdown during first period, which was extended campus-wide to students at the elementary, intermediate, and high school levels. KS Hawai‘i administrators then began dismissing students for the day.

“The idea was to limit movement, thereby limiting exposure to the greatest number of students possible,” the KS employee said.

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Students across age demographics may have been exposed to the virus, as the student who tested positive rode the bus on Wednesday, the KS employee told Big Island Now.

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There was no indication as of Wednesday evening that multiple students had been infected, though it could take days or weeks to know for certain if there was any spread throughout the student body and, if so, how extensive that spread might be.

KS Public Affairs officers shared the following letter outlining the school’s response to the COVID-19 infection with Big Island Now at 5:45 p.m., which was sent to parents earlier Wednesday:

“Aloha mai kākou,  

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We learned today that a Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi high school student has tested positive for COVID-19. The student is now in isolation and contact tracing is underway to identify and follow up with all close contacts of the affected student.   

The KS COVID-19 Response Team (CRT) determined that this individual did not acquire the coronavirus from a KS employee, student, or facility. We notified students and staff who were deemed “close contacts” to quarantine and monitor any symptoms that may develop.   

This is an extremely difficult time for all those impacted by this incident. We ask for your support in ensuring our haumāna and their family are given the privacy and aloha they will need to care for themselves and their ‘ohana. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.  

We understand there are many sensitivities around the increase in COVID-19 cases, and you may want to speak with someone. We encourage you to reach out to your supervisor or our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for confidential, short-term counseling support at no cost to you.  

For information about the changes within our facilities and steps we have taken to safeguard our campus refer to Ka Ipu o Lono’s Coronavirus site. Visit the CDC’s Coronavirus website to learn more about and recognize symptoms of COVID-19.   

Please be assured that your health and safety are of utmost importance to us.  If you have any questions, please reach out to the KS COVID-19 Response Team at [email protected].  

Me ka mahalo nui,  

KS COVID-19 Response Team

The news about the infection comes one day after Big Island public schools decided to utilize distance-learning only on all campuses through the first four weeks of the year, which begins on those campuses Aug. 17. Thirteen cases of COVID-19 have been associated with on-campus activities at Hawai‘i public schools across all islands since summer school began, according to data released by the Hawai‘i Department of Education Tuesday.

Other Big Island private schools along with KS Hawai‘i, such as Parker School in Waimea, have returned to in-person instruction for the 2020 school year.

More information on this developing story will be reported as it becomes available.

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