SB811 mandates publicizing cases by school starting in July

State lawmakers have voted to require the Hawaii State Department of Education to report coronavirus cases by school, something the Hawaii State Teachers Association has been calling on HIDOE to do since last summer. The department currently reports cases by complex areas, providing school staff, parents, students, and the community with vague updates and little useful information.

SB811 requires the HIDOE to publish a weekly report starting after July 1 on schools that have a student, staff member, or affiliated individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. The following information must be disclosed:

  • The school’s name;
  • The date the COVID-19 positive test result was reported to the school; and
  • The date that the positively tested individual was last on the school campus.

The bill now goes to Gov. David Ige, who has two months to decide whether he will sign, veto or allow the proposal to become law without his signature.

On August 12, 2020, the HSTA raised concerns about a lack of transparency in the HIDOE’s disclosure policy, when the department began releasing weekly tallies cases broken down only by complex areas but not by individual schools. Complex areas are composed of two or three high schools and the middle and elementary schools below them.

On August 28, 2020, the state of Hawaii Office of the Auditor released a report critical of the HIDOE’s policies and procedures for handling positive COVID-19 test results.

“Although DOE has communication policies and procedures in place to address COVID-19 cases, we question whether the department is following its own guidance. DOE generally has not provided information about COVID-19 cases on school campuses and the limited information that it does share has been inconsistent and incomplete,” the auditor’s report said.