Fatality prompts questions about how the state handles COVID-19 cases on campuses

Concerns raised following the death of an employee at Dole Middle School

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The COVID-related death of a Dole Middle School employee has raised questions about whether the state is doing enough to keep schools safe.

Prior to the death of office clerk Dayna Inouye, state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim said she received concerns from teachers about the school not following safety protocols.

“Dole has not closed down when this was announced, and teachers have raised that concern to me and business is usual going on there so there is a huge concern,” said Kim.

Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto disagreed that safety precautions weren’t being taken. She said it is not the department’s policy to close a school because of a single positive case.

"There are levels of risk assessments that are done,” she said.

Kishimoto said the department works with state health officials to determine what action should be taken.

As far as contact tracing, Kishimoto told senators they don’t have consistent follow-ups from the Health Department. She acknowledged, however, that contact tracing was still behind.

“It’s very troubling and concerning to me to know that these cases at Dole is not being acted upon quickly or in a timely manner which they said they were going to be doing this,” said Kim.

Kishimoto said in order for them to make a decision next week about the second quarter of school, they are waiting to hear back from DOH about school reopening and closure triggers.

“We have no intention of having a widespread, all at once reopening that’s not what we’re doing," she said. “But we also need to say that our decisions are based on very clear metrics that are created by DOH.”

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