HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Public school facilities will remain closed through at least April 30 as authorities urge broad swaths of the population to stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Officials are scrambling to figure out what students will do until in-person classes resume.
A letter being sent home to parents indicates that students and parents will have access to online and paper enrichment activities and instructional materials.
“We know these are uncertain and anxious times for everyone in our communities and we sincerely appreciate your patience and aloha,” schools Superintendent Christine Kishimoto said, in the letter.
She added that given the state’s stay-at-home order, which takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, school facilities will be closed “at least until April 30 and traditional in-school instruction is on hold.”
Kishimoto also said that by the end of the week, the system will be sharing “specific plans” for Hawaii’s 10,000 students who are on track to graduate at the end of the school year.
The state had previously planned to reopen schools April 7, but warned that could change if the coronavirus threat continued to grow ― as it has.
Most private schools have already taken classes online, and so have Hawaii universities.
Closing public schools, however, is exponentially more complicated. Some 180,000 students attend public schools in Hawaii under a single statewide district ― one of the biggest in the country.
About 10% of those students are in special education and nearly half are eligible for free or reduced cost lunch, a key indicator of poverty.
The closure of public schools comes as the state seeks to shut down all but the most essential functions of daily life and shuts down tourism through at least the end of April.
Those we talked to agreed school should not be in session in the middle of a pandemic.
“I’m okay as far as them being at home with me until the end of April,” said parent Jenny Martin.
HSTA says it’s working with the DOE in dealing with the issues.
“We are all finding a way to make it work in this very unusual time,” said HSTA president Corey Rosenlee.
“Part of the problem is that many of our students don’t have access to things like internet, computers or the technology that they would need to do a lot of this stuff online,” said Campbell High School teacher Anthony McCurdy.