With some anxiety and a lot of excitement, students, educators prep for start of new school year

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:08 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Public school students will be returning for full, in-person learning on Tuesday and staff members are busy preparing for their arrival.

Mauka Lani Elementary School welcomed back most of their keiki by the end of last school year.

Principal Neil Battad said they’re ready to do it all again.

“Nothing can come close to the interaction and education a student can get from being with a classroom teacher,” said Battad.

“We’re making sure that all in all, we’re coming back in a safe and sound way.”

Battad has a daughter at the school. He said that has helped him make difficult calls throughout the year.

“It had to be good enough for my daughter to be good enough for my students,” he said. “So if I was putting my own daughter at risk, then I wouldn’t do that to my students as well. "

Mauka Lani is part of the Campbell-Kapolei Complex area, where cases have been high throughout the pandemic.

“The case count going up these past few weeks is making everyone a little bit anxious,” said complex area superintendent Sean Tajima. “But I’m confident with our safety procedures, all of our schools have everything in place.”

Desks are spaced three feet apart and in most circumstances, masks are required.

At Mauka Lani, staff has set six different lunch schedules to keep students apart as they eat.

“We felt that we could handle the safety mitigation procedures,” Tajima said. “We want to be proud of the education that we’re delivering kids and we feel that in person is the best way to do that.”

There are online options in this particular complex area, and at some schools, slots are running out. Tajima said the district is working with families to give them options.

On the other hand, fourth grader Sadie Burnham wants nothing to do with virtual learning.

“Virtual learning was really hard for me,” she explained. “WiFi wasn’t that good. I didn’t have anybody to talk to. So that was kind of lonely.”

Everybody agreed that students should go back to school.

“There’s only so much you can do,” said fourth-grade teacher Chantel Willis. “There’s so much power and being able to point to something. Sometimes you just want to be there to help them.”

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