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Education Department Looks Out of State for Online Teachers

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University of Hawaii
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HONOLULU — Hawaiʻi's public school system is looking to the U.S. mainland for teachers to teach online classes as the islands struggle with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

As the highly contagious delta variant continues to infect more people, schools are seeing an increased demand for online instruction.

The problem is that department guidelines say teachers doing telework must live in Hawaiʻi, which means many of the people being interviewed for the distance-learning jobs would have to relocate to the islands.

The state Board of Education last week urged administrators to look at changing the residency requirement, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Sean Bacon, interim assistant superintendent for the state Department of Education, said an internal committee is being formed to reexamine hiring guidelines.

The new school year began earlier this month and the department currently offers limited remote learning options. As of last week, there were about 2,300 students, or 1.4% of the student population, enrolled in distance-learning programs offered by their schools, according to officials. Another 450 students were enrolled in a statewide program for students whose schools aren't offering remote options.

Administrators say more teachers are being interviewed and more classes are being added.

“It seems especially during the pandemic and economic crisis we’re in, changing that guideline would create more opportunity for our students to get highly qualified distance learning remotely," said board member Kenneth Uemura.

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