HSTA has a gripe over order that deepens divide between public, private schools

Public school teachers and staff are set to return to the classroom next week, but we could see...
Public school teachers and staff are set to return to the classroom next week, but we could see a delay in students heading back to school.(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Aug. 25, 2020 at 10:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Parents and staff are questioning the difference between public and private schools under Mayor Caldwell’s latest stay-at-home order.

Caldwell said the order requires private schools to close their campuses to in-person learning, and students must switch to online distance learning.

But at the governor’s request, public schools along with the University of Hawaii will remain open for the limited number of students doing in-person learning.

The teacher’s union quickly called for all teachers to apply to telework, calling the differentiation upsetting at the very least.

“This is shibai and outrageous!” HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said in a statement Tuesday night.

“If private school teachers are mandated to telework, and private school students are mandated to learn from home, then our public school teachers and students should not be treated differently. The governor should stop discriminating against our public school students and teachers and remove the barriers which are preventing our teachers from being able to telework and utilize 100% distance learning for all students,” the statement said.

Mayor Caldwell said his initial order he submitted to the governor included the closure of all schools on Oahu, public or private, including the University of Hawaii.

But he says schools are mainly the state’s responsibility, and when Gov. Ige asked him to remove that portion of the order, he complied.

“There are certain kids, at least (as it) was explained to me, that need more attention and need on-site learning, and I’m not going to argue with that,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell said he believes Gov. Ige is pushing as many people to do distance learning as possible, and for those learning in-person, he says the state is doing the best they can to ensure students and staff are safe.

In the meantime, the HSTA is also filing a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board over the matter. It will be heard on Aug. 31.

The Department of Education says that telework availability for employees is determined on a case-by-case basis.

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