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Schools, Teachers Union Agree to Boost In-Person Learning

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AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher
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HONOLULU  — Hawaii public schools will bring more students back to campus in the coming weeks under COVID-19 prevention guidelines agreed to by administrators, union leaders and health officials.

The circumstances will differ across schools, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported, depending on campus conditions, student needs and parent preferences.

Christina Kishimoto, the state's education department superintendent, said Monday that the goal was for more than 50% of elementary school students to receive in-person learning during the fourth quarter, which begins March 22. She said students who want to learn in-person would go to campus on a rotating basis.

At the end of the second quarter in December, 12% of elementary students were attending school on campus.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee said the union concluded the timing was right after consulting with officials from the state Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He said "the vast majority" of teachers will have been vaccinated and Hawaii has one of the lowest per capita rates of COVID-19 in the nation.

"With this agreement we do now believe that it's safe for more of our students to return," Rosenlee said.

The guidelines include consistent use of masks, staying home when sick and washing hands.

As much as possible, students will stick to groups or cohorts, ventilation systems will be adjusted to introduce outside air into buildings and physical barriers will be installed.

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