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Distance learning is the new normal at Kihei Charter School

Kihei Charter School was chartered on May 17, 2001, and the school building was occupied on Oct. 22, 2018. The school now has approximately 700 students ranging from elementary to high school.

Kihei Charter School is following a program of distance learning with accommodation for students needing extra help to meet the challenged presented by COVID-19.

Students needing extra help can go into a private online room or, if needed, visit campus and meet in person with their teacher. Only five students are allowed in a classroom at a time.

“Our staff and faculty have been working hard each step of the way,” said Michael Stubbs, head of school. “I’m proud of the collaboration among our team as they are doing all they can to provide a great virtual education for the students.”

In order to help the teachers, the school has done a considerable amount of training and planning for distance learning. In addition, if a student does not have a home computer, the school provides one at no cost to the family.

“As we all know, distance learning can be more challenging than face-to-face instruction. Preparation, communication, and collaboration are essential in making it as effective as possible,” said Stubbs.

Ellen Federoff is the Kihei Charter School’s acting high school director and, among her other duties, has been involved in making sure that COVID-19 protocols have been implemented in the school with safety the priority.

“Almost all of our students are learning from home,” said Federoff. “They are using Google Classroom and Zoom platforms. On campus, everyone is required to wear a mask, social distance and to stay at home if they are not feeling well. Our teachers work from school, and they keep their classroom windows and doors open all day. All shared spaces are disinfected daily, and all rooms have cleaning supplies on hand.”

The elementary and middle school students are the responsibility of Leslie Baldridge.

While there are challenges, Baldridge points to positive teaching interactions that have been happening since the school opened in its new configuration. “Teachers and educational assistants are able to create virtual ‘breakout rooms’ for struggling students and additional support,” said Baldridge. “Teachers have also made time for added support in math and reading for students in their virtual open lab. Many students who normally struggle in a classroom with other students are receiving personalized instruction and they are thriving.”

While it’s the new normal at the Kihei Charter School, the business of education continues. Or as Ellen Federoff would say, “Overall, things are going very well right now, as everyone has settled into the new routine.”

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