Teachers union rallies at DOE headquarters over COVID safety concerns at schools

Hawaii's Teachers Union filed a complaint against the state over COVID safety issues, saying the Education Department is not listening to their concerns.
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 5:38 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:12 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii’s teachers union voiced their concerns at the state Department of Education’s headquarters on Wednesday over COVID safety concerns at public schools.

HSTA members rallied after filling a grievance with the state Labor Relations Board, calling on the Education Department to speak with teachers regarding COVID protocols.

The union accused the department of poor planning in dealing with COVID and claimed the DOE has not been listening to input from teachers.

HSTA said among the problems are inconsistent quarantine protocols for students, which leave teachers to determine close contacts; limited access to distance learning options; and issues with staffing amid a severe substitute shortage.

Because of these issues, the union said more and more teachers are deciding to leave the profession — with some planning to do so before the school year ends.

“A lot of our teachers are saying, ‘I’m not gonna wait until the end of the semester or the year to retire,’ like they normally would, because it’s just become ridiculous,” said HSTA President Osa Tui Jr.

HSTA also said it is prepared to go to court if the Labor Relations Board does not take up their grievance.

This is the second time the union has filed such a grievance over COVID protocols, with previous the complaint filed last year.

Hawaii News Now has reached out and is awaiting a response from the DOE.

This story will be updated.

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