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Maui parents blindsided after distance learning is extended an extra month

Updated: Jan. 4, 2021 at 9:47 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Parents of students on Maui expressed their frustration over the sudden announcement that distance learning for area schools would continue for at least another month.

Students in the Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui complex were set to return to some form of in-person learning on Tuesday, but instead will have to learn from home until at least Feb. 1 after the Complex-Area Superintendent Kathleen Dimino sent a letter home to families Monday night.

The letter pointed to Maui County’s rising COVID-19 cases as the driving force for the decision to extend distance learning models until next month.

Other parents also received an automated voice message informing them of the extension, adding that staff are dealing with close contact situations, and travel-based quarantine requirements.

The message said in part, “The virus is in our community, and the hope is that the spike will decrease before we begin transitioning students to campus in the blended model on February 1st.”

DOE officials added that there were no COVID-19 impacts to campuses during the winter break, and the decision is being made out of an abundance of caution.

“This decision had to be made quickly to adjust to changing conditions. The issue regarding the COVID-19 clusters was brought to light last Friday. The complex area was unable to immediately reach DOH for consultation. All principals met with the complex area superintendent over the weekend to discuss further action,” the state DOE said.

“This resulted in the parent and staff letter that was issued today. Schools have also informed families through social media, and additional information will be provided to families as it becomes available.”

Parents who were planning on sending their children back to campus are now rushing to make alternate accommodations.

“So many families are contacting friends, ‘Can you watch my kids?’ With the COVID thing, it’s scary like what do you do? It’s a huge impact on our economy to not have our children taken care of,” one parent who asked to remain anonymous said.

“So many families are devastated because of what to do with childcare ... That’s the big thing. If hotels are open, then schools need to be open. Can’t do one without the other.”

This comes as the outbreak at the Harbor Lights condo in Kahului continues to grow. 

Health officials say 68 cases have been linked to a holiday choir practice, and so far, more than 280 condo residents have been tested for the virus. 

A deep-cleaning that was scheduled for Sunday night has been rescheduled.

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