DOH Provides Metrics on HIDOE’s Learning Parameters for Second Quarter

September 17, 2020, 1:12 PM HST (Updated September 17, 2020, 1:12 PM)
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The Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) will use newly released guidance from the Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) to plan for appropriate learning models for the remainder of the academic year.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many of Hawaii’s students to return to the 2020-21 school year via distance learning. However, the new metrics provided by the DOH could allow some schools to return to a blended-learning model by the second quarter, which runs from Oct. 12 to Dec. 18.

“The safety of our students, teachers, staff and leaders remains our highest priority,” HIDOE Superintendent Christine Kishimoto said in a press conference Thursday. “We appreciate having benchmarks that will allow our schools to move forward safely, strategically and based on sound data from our health experts.”

The wide variation the district is seeing in case counts within individual communities means, Kishimoto explained, that they cannot adopt a statewide approach for all schools.

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“These triggers provide a benchmark for schools to use in carefully and safely planning for increased on-campus access for students beginning with Quarter 2, as appropriate,” the superintendent said.

Learning model decisions will be made at a complex level. All families that have already signed up for the distance learning option will continue that model into the second quarter.

The DOH metrics outline five levels of community transmission of COVID-19 that would trigger corresponding learning model parameters for schools to consider and to assist with decision making. HIDOE will use the metrics to look at case activity within counties and by complex area.

Courtesy of Hawai’i Department of Education

During this transition, individual school plans could include such modifications as increasing the number of vulnerable students who have access to in-person instruction. Identified supports for vulnerable students vary among schools and may include, for example, students who require specialized learning services, students who need additional academic support, students in key transition grades, and students who lack internet access.

“I appreciate the collective commitment of our school communities of leaders, teachers, staff and parents in working together to ensure teaching and learning continues amid this health crisis,” Kishimoto added.

For planning purposes and to minimize disruption, parents should anticipate the second quarter will begin as a continuation of learning from home, as schools plan for a gradual rollout of blended learning opportunities and continue to monitor COVID case activity in their communities against the DOH metrics. As decisions are made, schools will communicate with families.

Most HIDOE schools have been delivering instruction via distance learning since the start of the school year. The Department extended that mode of instruction from an initial four weeks to the entire first quarter based on conditions at the time. The first quarter ends Oct. 2, followed by a one-week fall break. The second-quarter runs through December 18.

The guidance will be posted on DOH’s website here.

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