Parents express concern over how coronavirus could impact schools

Updated: Feb. 27, 2020 at 11:08 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Education Department said in the event there’s a confirmed coronavirus case at one of its nearly 300 schools, it would follow the guidance of the state Department of Health on whether to shut down the campus.

“Per DOH’s Pandemic Flu Preparedness & Response Plan, mandatory closures of schools, malls, events, businesses and public buildings, may be necessary based on the severity of the pandemic to help contain the spread, but it must be done in a coordinated manner,” the DOE said, in a statement.

The spread of the coronavirus in countries around the globe is causing increasing concern at home. And some parents are worried about how the state would react.

“I’m not satisfied with what Hawaii’s government is doing as of right now and I feel like as a parent, I need to be proactive and just do things on my own,” said Kaleo, a Big Island resident who asked not to use his last name to keep his children anonymous.

Kaleo said parents should have the option of pulling their children out of school to avoid potential exposure before it’s too late.

"If there is no testing going on and with this thing spreading … anything is possible,” he said.

“Hawaii is a hub. Everyone from all over the world comes and visits, especially Asia, and I don’t want to take that risk. Especially risking my children’s lives."

The DOE said a student or teacher suspected of the virus would be self-isolated and monitored. Those under investigation would not be allowed to attend school.

The CDC has cautioned that in an outbreak, schools may need to limit the size of classrooms, send students home to learn through teleconferencing or even close schools altogether.

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