DOE extends distance learning for most Hawaii schools through first quarter

DOE extends distance learning for most Hawaii schools through first quarter
Hawaii public schools will start the first month with distance learning. (Source: Hawaii News Now/file)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Most Hawaii public schools will continue distance learning through the first quarter, which ends Oct. 2, the state Department of Education said.

The new plan, announced Thursday, applies to all Oahu schools and most Neighbor Island schools.

Hana High and Elementary School on Maui and Kilohana Elementary, Maunaloa Elementary and Molokai Middle schools on Molokai will continue their current models.

The original start date for schools was set for Aug. 4 but was pushed back to Aug. 17 due to coronavirus concerns. The state Department of Education then made the decision to move to distance learning for the first four weeks.

In a virtual news conference on Thursday, the president of Hawaii’s teachers’ union thanked the Education Department for making the move ― but acknowledged more could be done to keep teachers safe.

“This is something that HSTA has been advocating for weeks and we are glad this decision has finally been made,” Rosenlee said. “(The) HSTA position is that we should have 100% distance learning for all students and our teachers should be able to telework.”

The ability of teachers to telework has been a point of contention for the union over the course of the last several weeks. Most teachers are still required to come to campus and teach from their classrooms, even if students are learning remotely.

“Right now the decision to allow teachers to telework has been at the whim of some complex areas superintendent and principals,” said Rosenlee. “This should be a unified policy for the entire state, and unfortunately that has not happened and that has put everyone’s health and safety at risk.”

Gov. Ige said earlier this week that the decisions about which teachers could telework were being made on a case-by-case basis.

Thursday’s announcement extends the decision to delay students’ return to campus by at least three weeks.

It comes as Oahu begins a second shutdown in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. At Gov. David Ige’s request, public schools are still allowed to hold limited in-person learning.

This story will be updated.

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