Hui of Kauai parents petition state to let Garden Isle students back to campus

More than 800 people have signed a petition asking the state to approve a partial...
More than 800 people have signed a petition asking the state to approve a partial return to school for Kauai students.((Source: Hawaii News Now))
Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 6:12 PM HST
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KAUAI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Kauai, where there are no active COVID cases, hundreds of parents are asking the department of education to allow students to start a blended model of learning on September 14, as it was initially planned.

The Garden Isle has been the most successful county at keeping coronavirus out, with only 57 cases so far and no deaths.

That has many families wondering why Kauai schools are lumped in with the rest of the DOE for full on-line learning through the first semester, which ends on October 2.

“I think the frustration is really fueled from that basis of not understanding why our keiki cannot be back in our schools,” said parent Madison Perry. “This is our safest time, this is the safest space.”

Perry says both of her children - ages 6 and 3 - are doing distance learning, which she says takes up at least seven hours of her day.

The Kapaa resident says its been a struggle for both families and teachers.

That’s why she is one of more than 800 people who have signed a petition, asking for a partial return to Kauai campuses.

“For an island that stands at zero cases and zero infection right now, do we say this is the safest time before we open up our borders to our visitors? You would think that it would’ve been the sweetest reward,” Perry said.

Corey Rosenlee, the head of the teachers union, says as a parent himself, he gets it.

But even with Kauai’s COVID case count, he warns it’s still a risky move at this time.

“I can say with a lot of confidence that if Kauai schools were to open, there would be cases and then they would have to shut down again,” Rosenlee said. “You could make the same argument for Molokai and Lanai. We just recently opened up a school on Molokai - Kualapuu - and there was a case already and they had to shutdown.”

Rosenlee said reopening then closing down schools would be much more stressful for teachers.

He says based on how the statewide situation is going, he expects full distance learning to be extended even longer.

“I think it’s becoming more realistic that even the (first) quarter is not going to be sufficient. We’re still in the hundreds of cases every single day,” said Rosenlee.

In a statement, the Complex Area Superintendent Paul Zina said they will continue to monitor case counts with state and county health officials following the Labor Day weekend.

“Early school reopening to blended learning models on any island will also require the support of teachers to be successful,” Zina said.

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