DOE Announces Re-Opening Plan for Schools

The DOE has announced how it will safely welcome back students and staff in the fall. The DOE released its “Return to Learn: School Reopening Plan” on Thursday. As part of the reopening plan, DOE school leaders have created elementary, middle/intermediate, and high school models for reopening. In general, models include face-to-face learning where all students are on campus daily for instruction and various blended learning models where a combination of in-person learning and structured online distance learning is provided. Priority for daily face-to-face learning will be given to K-2 students and vulnerable students. All schools are preparing for the possibility of future school closures by increasing device accessibility to students, building teacher capacity for virtual engagement, and expanding course offerings for credits toward graduation. There are also options for students who prefer to do solely online learning. 

To keep students safe while they’re on campus, the DOE has worked with public health officials to develop guidelines focused on health and safety. This includes:

  • Cohorts: for on-campus learning, the same group of students should be kept with the same staff throughout the day; all day for younger students and as much as possible for older students.
  • Physical distancing: a distance of six feet between students and staff members should be maintained whenever possible.
  • Face coverings: face coverings should be worn by employees, students, and visitors, especially when physical distancing is difficult or impossible.
  • Meals: individually plated meals are to be consumed in classrooms or at designated outdoor locations, or distancing precautions must be instituted in cafeterias.
  • Ventilation: windows should be opened for greater natural air circulation when possible.
  • Monitoring health: employees, students, and visitors should be screened for overt signs of illness in a safe and respectful manner.
  • Hygiene: adequate cleaning supplies, including soap, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer will be made available to schools and offices.
  • Sanitation: campuses, classrooms, and offices will be cleaned and disinfected on a routine and frequent basis. High-touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected at least daily.
  • School buses: students, drivers and anyone else riding the bus should wear face coverings, and physical distance should be maintained between students on buses.

The department says it’s committed to maintaining the standard 180 days of instruction in the new school year. DOE Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said, “As we move forward in our commitment to reopen schools on Aug. 4 for the fall semester, we know that the delivery of instruction in Hawai‘i, across the nation and globally is going to look very different. Our DOE ʻohana has been diligently working on plans for the new school year, growing from our experience navigating a global pandemic and applying lessons learned toward our commitment to high-quality learning and equity of access.” As the situation evolves and as new guidance becomes available, the DOE says it will adjust as necessary to uphold its commitment to providing a safe learning and working environment.

To view the full reopening plan: http://www.hawaiipublicschools.org/ConnectWithUs/MediaRoom/PressReleases/Pages/school-year-2020-21.aspx

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