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Friday, October 2, 2020

HSTA disappointed BOE did not adopt stricter school reopening standards

We are advocating for safer federal metrics

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

The Hawaii State Board of Education Thursday took steps to strengthen school reopening standards, but did not require the state Department of Education to match federal metrics, which are much more stringent than the state Department of Health’s (DOH) standards.

“We are disappointed that before students return to campuses in larger numbers, there will not be more accountability from schools and complex areas to show that they can meet safety standards,” HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said.

The state DOH’s metrics allow as many as ten times as many positive coronavirus cases in the community compared to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) metrics for school reopening.

“The HSTA is still waiting for clarity from both HIDOE and DOH about whether they will be using the more strict metrics from the CDC,” Rosenlee said. 

Here is the final language which the BOE approved about BOE reopening guidance, with amended sections in bold and deleted portions crossed out.

Moved to adopt the following positions as the Board’s directives to the DOE on the use of the DOH Guidance and its subsequent iterations, and direct the Superintendent to incorporate them into the Reopening Plan, Principal Handbook, and Health and Safety Handbook (as applicable) for the 2020-2021 school year:

  1. The Learning Model Parameters in the DOH Guidance and impact levels from the Governor’s Recovery Plan are minimum thresholds (but not the only criteria) that allow schools to start considering transitioning from distance learning to hybrid or in-person learning or from hybrid learning to in-person learning;
  2. The Learning Model Parameters in the DOH Guidance and impact levels from the Governor’s Recovery Plan do not apply to decisions regarding transitions from in-person learning to hybrid or distance learning or from hybrid learning to distance learning;
  3. Regardless of instructional delivery mode, all schools must:
    1. Successfully implement and consistently enforce at least six feet of physical distance between all individuals on campus to the greatest extent possible, excepting special needs students who require close contact care;
    2. Consistently enforce mandatory, proper mask wearing for all individuals on campus, exceptions will be made for staff and students with conditions or disabilities; and
    3. Implement to the greatest extent possible proper ventilation strategies as outlined in the DOH Guidance (page 10) for any indoor area on a campus that will be occupied by more than one person;
  4. Principals must obtain approval from their respective CAS before transitioning their respective schools from one instructional delivery mode to another;
  5. Principals seeking approval to transition their respective schools from distance learning to hybrid or in-person learning or from hybrid learning to in-person learning must demonstrate that the school can adequately implement all COVID-19 mitigation strategies required by the Board, DOE, and applicable collective bargaining agreements with the anticipated number of students and staff that will be on campus in the new instructional delivery mode;
  6. Principals may transition their respective schools from in-person learning to hybrid or distance learning or from hybrid learning to distance learning by notifying their respective CAS and without approval;
  7. Schools transitioning from one instructional delivery mode to another must provide families and school staff with at least two-weeks notice before implementing the transition unless the transition is in direct response to confirmed or potentially imminent COVID-19 spread in the school or surrounding community;
  8. To reduce undue hardship on families and school staff, schools should not change instructional delivery modes more than once within a four-week period unless the change is in direct response to confirmed or potentially imminent COVID-19 spread in the school or surrounding community;
  9. CASs are responsible for verifying the readiness of schools to provide safe learning environments and may approve schools’ requests to transition from distance learning to hybrid or in-person learning or from hybrid learning to in-person learning only if the school:
    1. Is requesting an instructional delivery mode that aligns with the Learning Model Parameters in the DOH Guidance;
    2. Is located in a county with an impact level of “Act with Care,” “Recovery,” or “New Normal” as categorized by the Governor’s Recovery Plan;
    3. Provides sufficient evidence that it can adequately implement all COVID-19 mitigation strategies required by the Board, DOE, and applicable collective bargaining agreements with the anticipated number of students and staff that will be on campus in the new instructional delivery mode; and
    4. Has not changed its instructional delivery mode in the last four weeks;
  10. The Superintendent must order schools to quickly transition to distance learning if the impact level of the county in which they are located changes to “Safer at Home” or “Stay at Home” as categorized by the Governor’s Recovery Plan;
  11. The Superintendent may adopt or incorporate any other parts of the DOH Guidance into the Reopening Plan, Principal Handbook, or Health and Safety Handbook as deemed necessary, provided that doing so does not conflict with the Board’s directives stated herein;
  12. No school may change its instructional delivery mode to hybrid or in-person learning until The Superintendent shall incorporate the Board’s directives stated herein into the Reopening Plan, Principal Handbook, or Health and Safety Handbook; and
  13. The Superintendent must request a rationale from the DOH on how it determined its Learning Model Parameters, including any scientific data on which it is based and an explanation of how it aligns with CDC’s “Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-Making,” and the Superintendent must include this rationale in the Reopening Plan for the purposes of transparency and addressing public concerns.”

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

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Author: Keoki Kerr
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