Maui Educators Picket for Improved Safety and Well-Being Amid Ongoing Pandemic

HSTA picket outside of Maui Waena. (9.21.21) PC: Wendy Osher.

Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association members who work on the island of Maui were joined by State Representative Troy Hashimoto for informational picketing at Maui Waena Intermediate School and Maui High School on Tuesday morning.

Educators expressed their concerns about student and teacher safety and well-being, impacts on learning environments, and stresses on teachers. The union also says that on Maui, a lack of free COVID-19 testing in schools means students are being forced to quarantine for days, losing out on instruction.

Also, because of a substitute teacher shortage, the union says that when Maui full-time teachers get COVID-19 or are isolated after being close contacts, large numbers of students spend their entire days in cafeterias.  

Robert Fusato, an HSTA member on Maui said, “On some days it’s not as bad as others, but some days you could have over 100 students in the cafeteria.”

Fusato said teachers want a better working agreement. “We feel there’s not enough of a teacher voice in what’s happening… If it’s only the state saying what’s going to happen and they’re not actually in the classroom, I don’t think they have enough information to make a decision,” said Fusato.

The HSTA represents 13,500 public school teachers statewide and is seeking better safety protocols for teachers and students amid the ongoing pandemic. There are nearly 1,500 educators on Maui represented by the HSTA, including teachers, counselors, librarians, registrars and others.

Rep. Hashimoto, who sits on the House Education Committee said, “I think there are a lot of challenges at every school… We need to make sure that Maui is taken care of and their needs are heard. On the neighbor islands especially, we have to advocate for what is necessary.”

State Representative Troy Hashimoto.

Teachers around the state are holding different informational picketing events over the next couple of weeks. They started last Tuesday, Sept. 14 in Kapolei, when about 200 Leeward Oʻahu teachers held an outdoor picketing event. Educators from Honolulu will be picketing the DOE headquarters in Honolulu this afternoon from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m.

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