2 more unions join teachers in calling for delay in reopening public school campuses

File photo of a Hawaii school
File photo of a Hawaii school(Hawaii News Now/file)
Updated: Jul. 22, 2020 at 6:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a significant development Wednesday, two more unions joined the Hawaii State Teachers Association in calling for a delay in reopening public school campuses for the fall term.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association and United Public Workers said they agree the teachers union that more preparation and training are needed before students can safely return to school buildings.

The three unions represent all the bargaining unit employees at public school campuses and it wasn’t immediately clear how the state could move forward without addressing their concerns.

[Read more: Teachers union says it has ‘no confidence’ that public schools can reopen safely Aug. 4]

UPW represents custodians, cafeteria workers, school physical therapist aides and others. HGEA represents school leadership along with school health assistants, clerical aides and other personnel.

“We do not feel the Hawaii State Department of Education and the Hawaii Department of Health have done enough to properly create and implement health strategies to mitigate the spread of coronavirus on our public school campuses,” the unions said, in a joint news release.

They called for “written guidance” from the Health Department on how to safely reopen schools, training for all faculty and staff, and proper protective equipment.

In a statement Wednesday night, the state Department of Education said there were not plans to change the planned reopening of schools on Aug. 4.

“However, we are continuing to monitor the situation alongside Gov. Ige and DOH. Should the need arise to evaluate this return date for health and safety reasons, we will definitely do so,” a spokesperson said.

Earlier this week, the governor joined schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto in trying to reassure parents and school personnel that reopening school campuses on Aug. 4 was safe.

This story will be updated.

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