Board approves plan to delay Hawaii school year start

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s Board of Education approved Thursday an agreement to delay the start of public schools.

Students across Hawaii were originally scheduled to return to school on Aug. 4. But the statewide teachers union led an effort to delay, saying the state Department of Education didn’t sufficiently plan for safely reopening schools during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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The department and unions later agreed to a new date of Aug. 17. The board voted after hours of testimony and discussion.

Teachers returned to work Wednesday as originally planned.

Parent Burke Burnett’s testimony cited the 124 newly confirmed cases the state reported Thursday. “It is obvious … that now is not that time to open in-person classroom instruction,” he said. “The current reopening plan is reckless. It will make people sick. Some of them will die.”

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Another parent, Genna Javier, opposed the delay. Students who don’t want to return to school have the option for distance learning, she said in previously submitted written testimony.

Teachers keep raising new complaints while pushing for a delay, she said: “I fear if we keep going down this road, there will be no school ever because nothing is ever going to be just right.”

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