Superintendent: Elementary schools could welcome students back in August

The inside of a classroom at Fern Elementary School in Hawaii.
The inside of a classroom at Fern Elementary School in Hawaii.(Instagram/Hawaii Dept. of Education)
Updated: Jun. 4, 2020 at 3:22 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state superintendent hopes to welcome students back to elementary school campuses by August, but many unanswered questions remain, Civil Beat reports.

In a virtual meeting with parents and others on Tuesday, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said she wanted to see in-person learning resume for elementary grade levels by the fall.

[Read more: Guidelines for reopening schools in the fall include social distancing, mask wearing]

But many are calling on the superintendent to offer a detailed plan on how schools will reopen.

At its general meeting Thursday, the Board of Education is taking up the subject.

In an outline of the planned discussion, Board Chairwoman Catherine Payne said the BOE hopes to provide the “big picture” guidance for reopening schools in the 2020-21 school year.

Several board members said the Education Department needs to release detailed guidelines soon to make clear what students, parents and teachers can expect.

Kishimoto said that one option could be a hybrid model, with students ― perhaps those in middle and high schools ― attending class partially online and partially in-person.

She added that a number of unknowns are complicating planning efforts.

The DOE doesn’t yet know what it’s operating budget for the upcoming school year will be, and doesn’t know if an increase in cases locally or nationally might force schools to change direction.

Teachers union President Corey Rosenlee testified during the board meeting, saying that he is concerned about where the state is when it comes to planning for schools to reopen.

He said a number of 12-month teachers who returned to campuses Monday have already reported a lack of hand sanitizer and cleaning products.

Meanwhile, several board members suggested that planning should first focus on how special needs students will return to campuses safely.

This story will be updated.

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