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Surging COVID-19 Cases Trigger Last-Minute Delay To Start Blended Learning at Most Maui Public Schools

Maui High School had planned to go to a Hybrid Learning model for the third quarter that begins Jan. 5, but a surge in COVID-19 cases on Maui has delayed the change. File photo of Maui High School by Wendy Osher.

Just one day before the 20 public schools of the Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui complex area were set to reopen after the winter break, a letter was sent to staff, parents and guardians stating the scheduled shift to blended learning would be delayed until Feb. 1.

“While we did not experience any COVID-19 impacts to our campuses over Winter Break, the county is seeing an increase in cases,” Complex Area Superintendent Kathleen Dimino said in the letter dated Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Monday was a Teacher Work Day.

The decision was made “out of an abundance of caution, and in consultation with Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (HIDOE) leadership, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH) and Maui County officials,” according to the letter.

The last-minute timing of the decision, according to an e-mail from HIDOE’s communication department, was due to a combination of only learning about the new COVID-19 clusters on Friday (New Year’s Day) and the complex area not being able to quickly reach the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health for consultation.

“Immediately afterwards, all principals were called to an urgent meeting with CAS Dimino to discuss further action. This resulted in the Jan. 4 parent letter,” the e-mail from HIDOE stated.

There has been a surge of COVID-19 cases on Maui island over the schoolʻs Winter Break. There have been 287 new COVID-19 cases reported in the past 14 days, up 91 cases over two-week period, from Dec. 8-21, 2020. As of Dec. 31, there were 12 people hospitalized on Maui due to the coronavirus.

Each Maui public school had sent letters to parents and guardians before the Winter Break to explain how that school would operate for the third quarter. Maui High School, for example, had said it was moving to Hybrid (blended) Learning model with students divided alphabetically into four groups.

Maui High School had put together an elaborate, color-coded chart to show when the groups attended school on campus and when they would learn from home. It did have an asterisk: Schedule is subject to change.

To start the third quarter, Dimino said the schools in her complex area should continue to use the learning models that were in place during the second quarter.

There were no last-minute changes to the 12 schools in the Hana-Lahainaluna-Lanai-Molokai complex area. The plan before Winter Break remains. All schools will resume the third quarter with the same learning models from the second quarter, with the exception of Hana High & Elementary School, which switched from hybrid to in-person learning, according to the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education.

The East Maui town of Hana has had less than 10 reported COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and share updates should case counts continue to rise,” Dimino said in the letter. “For now, we ask that you do the following to help minimize the impact of community cases to our schools and prepare for potential shifts in learning models.”

  • Double check with your administration and/or child’s teacher to ensure that the correct contact information is on file in the event there is an update.
  • Resume daily wellness checks prior to arriving on campus using the following guidance, bit.ly/WellnessCheckHIDOE. Individuals who are exhibiting any symptoms, or who have been directed to quarantine by the DOH, should not go to campus or visit a HIDOE facility. If someone in your household has been tested for COVID-19 or if they are exhibiting symptoms, please remain at home and call your school before going to campus
  • Avoid unnecessary gatherings on and off campus, wear a mask, and practice proper hand hygiene

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2021/01/04/surging-covid-19-cases-trigger-last-minute-delay-to-start-blended-learning-at-most-maui-public-schools/

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