Public schools seek to waive graduation requirements for Class of 2020

Updated: Mar. 27, 2020 at 5:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Education Department is seeking to modify graduation requirements for the Class of 2020 so they can get their diplomas on time.

The issue will be taken up at a Board of Education meeting next week.

School facilities will remain closed through April 30 as the state remains under a stay-at-home order.

So the department wants to give school administrators more flexibility in deciding whether their students have fulfilled the requirements of the degree — and should be allowed to graduate.

“The unique circumstances of COVID-19 requires the department to prioritize the collective need of our students, parents, (and) professional staff ... to ensure the success of all public school students in achieving their educational goals," state schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said, in a memo to the board.

“The general consensus is that a waiver approval is a positive step in removing the unanticipated obstacles that may inhibit high school seniors from graduating on time.”

She said denying the waiver could jeopardize student plans for college, the military or jobs.

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There are 10,000 public high school seniors eligible to graduate this summer. Thousands of other students in private schools have been attending class remotely.

But offering distance learning options is far more difficult for public school students — not least of which because not all of them may have computers at home.

The superintendent said, however, that teachers are preparing learning packets that can be picked up in person or delivered to students remotely. She said these lessons would not be graded.

Meanwhile, the DOE said it will make a decision on whether to cancel commencement exercises by April 15.

This story will be updated.

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