The State House and Senate have agreed to mandate disclosure of COVID-19 cases in public schools, overriding a veto by Gov. David Ige which would have kept secret the precise numbers of students and staff diagnosed with the disease, as well as the names of the schools where people were reported ill.
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.
A bill requiring the Hawaii Department of Education to publish a weekly report naming the public schools that have COVID-19 cases among students and staff unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee Wednesday.
“DOE had not been publicizing positive cases until pressed by HSTA. Then, citing privacy laws, DOE only provided information by large complex areas, prompting the teachers’ union to begin identifying specific schools,” the auditor’s report said.
During a Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, state senators pressed Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto about why more teachers aren’t allowed to telework when students are learning from home, and why educators are spending their own money for protective gear.
In the last four days, the Hawaii State Teachers Association has received reports of employees at seven Oahu schools diagnosed with COVID-19, even before students return to public school campuses on Monday.
Over the last few days, teachers across the state have contacted HSTA to report confirmed COVID-19 cases at four schools. In each of these cases, teachers were notified, but parents and the greater public were not. This is happening less than one week before students are supposed to return for face-to-face learning and testing on school campuses.