To avoid lost learning days, a state lawmaker is urging the Hawaiʻi schools to take on guidance that would allow students who have tested negative for COVID-19 to stay in school despite a confirmed exposure to the virus.
Sen. Brian Schatz sent letters to the Hawai‘i Department of Education, also known as the DOE, and the Association of Independent Schools, also known as the HAIS, calling on them to adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “test-to-stay,” or TTS.
“With this new protocol, we can recoup thousands of days of learning. We have to be as aggressive as possible in preventing learning loss and giving every student an opportunity to learn as much as they can,” said Senator Schatz.
“TTS policies will allow students to stay in school even if they are exposed to COVID-19 thereby minimizing the number of days students would otherwise miss and helping to reduce the learning loss that can occur during traditional quarantine at home,” Schatz wrote in his letters to Hawai‘i Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi and HAIS Executive Director Philip Bossert. “Initial data from case studies show that schools with TTS policies have similar transmission rates as non-TTS schools.”
Hayashi told Big Island Now in an email, the district is involved in ongoing discussions with the Department of Health on what a TTS program would like in the public schools with the current resources available, including staffing.
“We fully agree in-person learning is critical to student success and we are committed to finding solutions to minimize disruptions to learning as much as possible while ensuring the overall safety of students and staff,” Hayashi stated.
Big Island Now spoke to Bossert on Tuesday. He confirmed their organization is in favor of TTS.
“I just forwarded Sen. Schatz’s letter to the heads of private school,” he said. “We are in favor of in-person learning.”
Bossert added that he also sent out a letter to the school leadership indicating that with the COVID-19 spike of the omicron virus, they need to remain vigilant with mask-wearing and other CDC guidelines.