Kishimoto: Back to ‘normalcy’ in the fall

Public schools in Hawaii will fully open for daily in-person learning when the 2021-22 school year begins on Aug. 3, state Superintendent Christina Kishimoto announced Monday.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, state Department of Education schools have not fully reopened since March 13, 2020.

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In a letter to parents, Kishimoto, who announced in March that she would not renew her contract with the department, said improving conditions, a growing body of science-backed research, and updated health guidance have allowed the DOE to increase in-person instruction at the state’s elementary schools over the past two months.

“Our schools have proven to be safe spaces throughout this crisis,” she wrote. “Despite more than 800 cases reported by schools and offices since June 2020, consistent adherence to safety protocols has meant that — to date — no transmission of the virus has occurred at a (DOE) facility.”

The wide availability of COVID-19 vaccines, which recently have been approved for adolescents 12 and older, offer an additional layer of protection.

“All of our high schools have been paired with health care providers to offer vaccinations to interested students and families, and we are now focusing on our middle school campuses,” she continued. “Additionally the department is finalizing plans for weekly COVID testing at select pilot schools to further contain spread in our school communities.”

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With these initiatives in place, Kishimoto said the DOE is “optimistic we can sustain positive changes and start to resume a sense of normalcy in the fall.”

Co-curricular and extracurricular activities such as clubs, band and athletics also will resume.

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