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As fall semester approaches, HPU balances enrollment bump with COVID safety

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 5:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In less than two weeks, Hawaii Pacific university kicks off the new school year.

With the pandemic seemingly dragging Hawaii backwards, HPU is mapping out its coronavirus safety protocols, while also preparing to welcome a record number of first-year students.

“I think perhaps because of the pandemic, people are starting to realize that travel opportunities and study opportunities are precious and they don’t want to waste them,” said HPU vice president and provost Jennifer Walsh.

“So we’ve seen not only growth in our continental U.S. students, but also here in Hawaii. We’ve been able to hold steady even though we know the economic pressures have made college decisions a little more challenging for some families,” Walsh added.

When school begins, HPU’s freshmen class will feature 850 students, which is a big jump from 475 in 2019.

As such, the school is taking steps to keep coronavirus off campus, requiring vaccination of all faculty, staff, student-athletes and those in select majors.

Those who do not show proof of vaccination are subject to be tested one-to-three times a week.

“We have found that having these protocols in place, as well as, our various rigorous protocols has kept our campus safe,” said HPU president John Gotanda. “We hope that this coming year that we will have the same success.”

HPU president Gotanda says 90% of faculty and students will already be vaccinated by the time instruction begins.

HPU will have some hybrid learning options available, but the school is ramping up in-person classes while also monitoring if any precautions should be taken as cases rise statewide.

“We believe that even with the increase in cases, we’ve taken the appropriate steps to keep our community safe through social distancing, to increase sanitization, air filtration, improved air filtration and other procedures,” Gotanda explained.

Class resumes Monday, Aug. 23.

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