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Friday, August 7, 2020
DoE: No In-person Oahu Schools for First Four Weeks
By News Release @ 9:49 PM :: 830 Views :: Education K-12, Labor, COVID-19

O'ahu public schools transition to distance learning for first four weeks of 2020-21 school year

UPDATE: Scroll down for HSTA response

UPDATE #2: DoE Sister Isles Plan: Almost all Schools go Virtual

(Editor's Note: The plan is to keep paying HSTA salaries while having only pretend online 'classes' that no students attend.  Parents will be needing this material >>> Homeschooling? Hawaii State Library offers free 'Scholastic Teachables')

News Release from Hawaii DoE, August 7, 2020

The Hawai'i State Department of Education (HIDOE) announced today a modification to school reopening plans for all O'ahu public schools to align with the new safeguards and restrictions prompted by the increasing number of COVID-19 cases on the island. 

Starting on Aug. 17, all O'ahu public schools will be implementing full distance learning models. Schools will use next week, Aug. 10-14, to train and prepare for this transition.

HIDOE has designed three phases for O'ahu schools:

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, O'ahu 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 Hawai'i 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.

Aug. 17 remains the official start date for all HIDOE students. Neighbor island school reopening plans will continue as planned, with blended learning models. All HIDOE buildings will remain open for faculty and staff, and employees will be expected to follow all health and safety protocols. 

“It is our mission to ensure that all students in Hawai'i have equitable access to a quality education, even amidst this pandemic,” said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. “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.

Earlier this week the Department announced the launch of the 'Ohana Help Desk to provide self-service and chat support for families experiencing issues connecting to HIDOE systems remotely from home. The help desk will be able to assist with connectivity-related issues (e.g., network and WiFi connectivity), access and security issues, device support (e.g., devices, applications, software updates) and general IT support.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve or as new health guidance becomes available, HIDOE will continue to adjust its Return to Learn: School Reopening Plan to ensure that a safe learning and working environment is provided for students, teachers and staff. Updates about the school year will continue to be posted on the Department’s website and social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn).  

  *   *   *   *   *

HSTA has serious concerns about HIDOE’s three-phase reopening plan

HSTA was not consulted nor notified prior to Friday’s announcement

News Release from HSTA, Friday August 7, 2020

The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) has serious concerns about the three-phase reopening plan unveiled Friday by Gov. David Ige and Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto.

When asked if the three public worker unions (HSTA, Hawaii Government Employees Association, and United Public Workers) were notified of these new changes, the superintendent said she had teams working with the unions.

(Watch the news conference with Gov. David Ige and Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto)

However HSTA was not consulted nor notified prior to Friday’s announcement, and learned of the developments alongside the public. HSTA has subsequently demanded impact bargaining with the employer as the changes would have ramifications on numerous parts of our current contract.

HSTA has concerns about the HIDOE’s plan to allow students to gather at schools “to connect with their teacher, receive training on the distance learning platforms, and address issues with connectivity and access to technology” until details of the plan have been properly negotiated.

HSTA disagrees with the decision to delay a move to 100-percent distance learning for neighbor-island public schools. While case counts may be lower on the neighbor islands, returning to some form of in-person learning will still pose a health and safety risk and inevitably cause these numbers to increase. This risk prompted Hawaii’s three neighbor island mayors to send a letter Wednesday urging the governor to keep public school and university campuses closed for 28 days.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said, “I feel strongly that we are part of one, unified school system, and all children across the state should have accessibility to learn online. We would have liked the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) plan to be a cohesive one. Kauai would like the same consideration to move to a distance learning option for our students at the start of the school year.”

Related post: HSTA advocates for 100% distance learning through at least 1st quarter

HSTA also disagrees with the plan’s third phase, which schedules a transition to blended learning on Sept. 14. HSTA has consistently requested that the Hawaii State Department of Health provide clear written guidance regarding the rate of positive coronavirus tests, community spread, and metrics to determine the ability of schools to resume in-person instruction safely. Today, the state offered no specific triggers for when it would be safe to reopen schools or when schools would have to close to students again. Setting an arbitrary date mid-quarter is problematic and does not meet this need.

HSTA believes all educators should be given the option to telework. Even as Oahu public school students are shifting to 100-percent distance learning, educators are still required to report to campuses and worksites. That appears to violate HSTA’s contract under Article X. Teacher Protection: “G. When students are sent home from school or are not required to attend due to emergencies which endanger health or safety, teachers will not be required to remain at, nor report to, said schools.”

Throughout this crisis, HSTA has fought for the health and safety of our members and our keiki, from guidelines regarding physical distancing and mask wearing on our campuses to proper time and training for our educators. We can’t wait to welcome our students back to our school campuses, and will continue to advocate for the safest return for all.

SA Editorial: Seeking safer schools

HTH: Kishimoto to meet with neighbor island education officials next week

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