Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School has transitioned to distance learning for all students for the rest of the week due to a rise in COVID cases within the school community.
On Monday, Jan. 17, the school sent home a letter to parents announcing the temporary shift to online learning as a result of the growing number of students, teachers and support staff impacted by isolation and quarantine requirements.
“Although we remain committed to prioritizing in-person learning, due to staffing challenges and for the continued health and safety of our students and staff, we will be transitioning to full distance learning for all students, effective January 18, 2022, for four days,” the letter states.
On Tuesday, parents and guardians were advised to pick up Chromebooks left at school by their children as soon as possible. Today through Friday, Jan. 21, teachers will meet virtually with students. In-person learning is scheduled to resume Monday, Jan. 24.
“Please know this decision was not made lightly,” the letter states. “If anything changes, families will be notified as soon as possible. To ensure that we can continue to closely monitor the situation, please
continue to report positive cases to the school office during this time.”
Similar to how the surge of the Delta variant was addressed, the Hawaiʻi Department of Education does not have a generalized threshold for closing a classroom or school. Each situation is individually addressed.
“Schools are instead empowered with the flexibility to independently address any challenges that arise,” HIDOE stated.
During the county’s weekly COVID-19 briefing update on Tuesday, Kapaʻa-Kauaʻi-Waimea Complex Superintendent Paul Zina said the district is sticking with plans it announced last week to continue to have students learn in the classroom despite record numbers of new cases.
“The goal is to keep as many students in the classroom as many days as possible,” Zina said.
The policy implemented last week calls for virtual learning to be implemented only when staffing shortages call for it on a case-by-case, class-by-class basis.
“There are many different variables that go into major decisions like closing a classroom or school,” HIDOE officials stated. “School leaders would work with their complex area superintendents to assess and weigh all possible solutions before deciding to close any class or school. If a situation arises where a class or school is not able to open, parents will be notified by their school as soon as possible.”
Schools are monitoring their situation daily and the Department asks families for their flexibility and understanding during this challenging time.