At Thursday’s BOE meeting, Rosenlee testified about HSTA members’ concerns and said, “The lack of action and transparency from the DOE has put the lives and health of teachers, staff, and our students in jeopardy. This was clearly evident today when the Department of Education and the Department of Health announced metrics for reopening schools. HSTA was never consulted in the creation of these metrics.”
Angie Choi, a school counselor at Dole Middle School, submitted testimony to the Board of Education Wednesday asking them on behalf of her late sister to assure that educators can telework during the pandemic.
In written testimony ahead of the BOE’s general meeting Thursday afternoon, members cited flawed Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) policies and procedures in response to COVID-19.
We want to inform board members about the real conditions occurring in our schools during the coronavirus pandemic, especially with regards to schools where all teachers are being unilaterally denied telework when requested, and conditions in classrooms with in-person instruction, particularly those involving special education and fully self-contained educators.
Despite our calls to the contrary, many schools across the state welcomed thousands of students on campuses today, and additional face-to-face interactions are planned through the week. This cannot continue if we truly want to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in our communities.
On Thursday, July 30, at 1 p.m., the board will hold a special meeting to discuss school reopening options. The agenda includes three action items that link to background, recommendations, and implications as submitted by the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE). On Tuesday, July 28, we submitted joint testimony with HGEA and UPW on all three action items, which we are sharing below.
BOE Chair Catherine Payne said the board will “hold a special meeting to address the concerns in the testimony about training and health matters that came up. At that point, we could also consider a waiver (of the 180 required student instructional days) for some additional professional development days.”
HSTA President Corey Rosenlee says the differentials “worked better than our dreams ever imagined,” and not just by filling the actual positions. Rosenlee says higher education programs that funnel educators into these positions also saw a significant increase.
James Sunday, Radford High School principal, submitted testimony to the BOE that said, “Although we are expected to be ‘good soldiers’ who follow directives, we can not in good conscience move forward without expressing the concerns we continue to have in regards to reopening our schools. The depth of these concerns keep us up at night as we hold the health and safety of our individual communities in our hands.”
"State officials should opt to delay the Aug. 4 start for students by up to a week, while tasking school facilities to hammer out, absorb and train up on more-through plans," the newspaper editorialized Wednesday.