Wednesday, March 25, 2020

HSTA’s open letter to the Hawaiʻi public school community

Hawaiʻi’s educators are committed to supporting our local communities

To our ʻohana,

During these trying times, please know that Hawaiʻi’s educators are committed to supporting our local communities. We know our public schools serve as not only hubs of learning, but as safe spaces that provide much-needed stability for our keiki. The recent coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has fractured this stability, and we are working hard to pick up the pieces.

On Monday, public school educators across the state began working remotely to plan enrichment activities for our keiki. These activities, which will be made available next week, will feature creative remote learning opportunities, such as YouTube videos, online challenges, and videoconferencing. They are designed to help families encourage learning at home, and provide a sense of normalcy and routine amid global uncertainty.

We understand this might be difficult for families. More than 19,000 of our students have special needs; 3,000 are homeless; and many have families who do not speak English. Many students may not have access to mobile devices, computers, and the internet. Parents and guardians may be busy on the front lines of Hawaiʻi’s COVID-19 response. This is why the Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association signed an agreement with the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education to ensure students will not be penalized if they cannot complete these activities while schools are closed.

The HSTA also created a web page with dozens of online resources for parents and members to use to supplement student learning. These resources cover a variety of topics, such as art, music, reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. There are links to virtual field trips, educational games, and storytelling, as well as ideas to encourage physical fitness. We encourage families to try these activities, and do them together if you can.

Explore our student learning resource page

Our public schools also provide a critical service by feeding our students. For many, school meals are the only nutritious meals our keiki have access to. We applaud the department’s commitment to provide breakfast and lunch at dozens of public schools across the state during these closures.

Click here for more information on the HIDOE’s grab-and-go meal program

We stand united with our school colleagues, including principals, cafeteria staff, custodians, educational assistants and others who are also doing their best to ensure students’ needs are met.

Though we are in a time of crisis, we refuse to let it cripple us. Our schools will reopen when it is safe—and when they do, Hawaiʻi’s educators will welcome our keiki with open arms.

With warmest aloha,

The teachers, counselors, registrars, librarians, student activities coordinators, student services coordinators, resource teachers, and other members who make up the Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association.

View our COVID-19 web page for the latest updates

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