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Moving forward by safely bringing more students back to campuses

February 25, 2021

As you know, many HGEA Department of Education members have been working continuously on campus since the start of the pandemic. Now, metrics are showing that COVID-19 rates are declining and our state's vaccination plan is gaining speed with more than 326,766 vaccinations given to date according to the Department of Health.

This encouraging data on vaccinations and declining positivity rates supports efforts to have more students physically present in schools. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, new research and data have emerged to guide the safe reopening. In fact, at the recent HGEA Educational Officers Institute, Dr. Sarah Kemble, DOH deputy state epidemiologist, said that layered mitigation strategies including wearing masks and good hygiene have proven successful in private schools and other industries such as the healthcare field where social distancing is not possible.

HGEA has been engaging with and listening to concerns and expectations of principals who are responsible for crafting their school’s plan to make in-person learning safe and possible. We also know this means working out the logistics in order to carry out their plan. We will continue to advocate strongly for safe working conditions for all DOE employees.

HGEA supports efforts to safely bring students back to school with updated clear direction and protocols from the DOE Superintendent and supported by guidance from the DOH. It is our understanding that this guidance is currently being updated. We also believe that the engagement of the entire school community, including families, teachers, and staff, regarding these measures should be a priority.

We want to thank the leadership of U.S. Senator Brian Schatz and Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki who continue to bring leaders and key stakeholders together to help facilitate discussions that will lead to the best possible outcome for Hawaii's students and families. The longer we keep children out of classrooms the farther many will fall behind.

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