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Priority is to keep schools open as much as possible, Hawaiʻi education department says

children school playground generic elementary
Sophia McCullough

When it comes to closing a school due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the decision is made on a case-by-case basis. But the priority is to keep schools open as much as possible, said state Department of Education Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi.

He outlined the department’s response to COVID cases during a state House finance committee meeting on Thursday.

Hayashi said the DOE is using the latest guidance from the state health department when responding to a positive case in a school.

School administrators are responsible for contact tracing and ensuring individuals are in isolation or quarantine.

But when it comes to closing a school due to an outbreak, Hayashi says it’s done on a case-by-case basis.

"We work very closely with the principal, with area superintendents. We problem solve the situations as they arise," he said. "Should a decision be made that we may need to transition individual classes to distance learning, you know, we’ll do that versus closing the entire school because we want to prioritize in-person learning, and keep our students in school as much as possible to support them and their families."

Hayashi said area superintendents can close a school for a day, but anything longer will be up to him or a deputy superintendent.

Casey Harlow was an HPR reporter and occasionally filled in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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