Superintendent apologizes for underreporting COVID case count at schools

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:39 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:55 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Interim schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi apologized Thursday for his department’s failure to report the number of COVID cases in dozens of schools.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association said 41 schools have not posted their cases on the state Department of Education’s public dashboard at least since December ― even though they’re required by law to so weekly.

“My sincere apologies for those numbers not being there,” Hayashi said, during a joint meeting of the Senate Ways and Means and Education committees.

“We are following up with the schools and we are updating those numbers.”

The teachers union said some large schools ― like Waianae High ― haven’t reported their cases since October and others haven’t reported their numbers since August.

HSTA’s president said given the reporting issue, the DOE’s published statistics run counter to what teachers and students are experiencing in the schools.

“Children are now coming home or to quarantine because they were close contacts. ... It’s happening everywhere. Our schools are becoming ghost towns,” said Osa Tui Jr., HSTA president.

Hayashi said the backlog is partly due to COVID-related staffing shortages.

“The schools ... have been inundated currently, more recently with omicron. Again, no excuses. My apologies for that. We are working to get those numbers updated as soon as possible,” he said.

The DOE said it’s also looking at ways to streamline the reporting system.

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