Kamehameha Schools Hawaii student tests positive for COVID-19

A Kamehameha Schools Hawaii high school student has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are acting in an abundance of caution and care, have notified all individuals impacted and are following our established contact tracing protocols,” according to a letter sent to families from the KS COVID-19 Response Team, a copy of which was provided to the Tribune-Herald.

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The letter was sent Wednesday, which was the first day of school.

“Our high school acted to minimize movement, by keeping students in their first-period classrooms, in a bubble, limiting exposure,” the letter continued.

The student is in isolation, and contact tracing is underway to identify and follow up with all close contacts.

Staff and students who have been deemed “close contacts” were told to quarantine and monitor for symptoms.

According to the letter, the response team determined the student did not get the virus from a Kamehameha Schools employee, student or facility.

A spokesperson for Kamehameha Schools did not immediately return calls or respond to emailed questions.

Concerns surrounding COVID-19 and students’ impending return to school have been growing among Hawaii’s educators, especially amid an ongoing surge of cases on Oahu.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said during a Honolulu Star-Advertiser Facebook Live stream Wednesday that the state has to get through the current surge of COVID-19 cases “before we even dream about putting kids back in the classrooms.”

“We’ve got to get the school openings right,” said Green, a Big Island physician. “It’s going to be difficult to open schools correctly without any evidence of what the best practice is. That’s why probably the most conservative road has to be taken, and we’ll see how that unfolds in the next couple of days.

“I am fairly certain that the community of parents, teachers and the teachers’ union are too worried that the spread will not be containable, and the last thing we want to do is add a whole other variable into a surge. That won’t work.”

Green said the coronavirus risk is pretty low for children, but pretty high for their parents and kupuna.

“The private school has about three times as much resources as the public school, per pupil,” Green said, speaking in general about private schools. “And the private school has a very different relationship with its educators. So they can have a dialogue that is not fraught with some of the … political landscapes that exist.”

“From a safety standpoint, if the private schools feel that they can socially distance their students, and they have the resources to provide testing and tracing and masks, and their teachers want to teach, I don’t personally see a problem because they can much better control it … than the public schools can do, where they have far less resources, and they put the public workforce in great peril.”

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Reporter John Burnett contributed to this story.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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