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UH-MC to hold most fall classes online

Two-thirds online, one-third in person

University of Hawaii Maui College was ahead of the curve when it came to creating and releasing a fall class schedule that includes safety protocols for COVID-19.

College Chancellor Lui Hokoana said Tuesday that UH-Maui College was the only one of the 10 University of Hawaii campuses that decided to hold off on the release of its fall schedule until new safety parameters, such as social distancing, mask wearing and cleaning standards, could be considered.

Now, other UH campuses, which rolled out the same fall schedule as last year after UH President David Lassner announced the resumption of in-person classes in fall throughout the system, are “scrambling” to adjust schedules. They will likely have to re-enroll students after determining which classes will be solely online, solely in-person or a combination of both, he said.

“Maui got ahead of all the 10 campuses because we didn’t offer the traditional scheme like everyone else did,” Hokoana told The Maui News on Tuesday.

Hokoana said that the college has 450 classes for the fall semester. Of those, about two thirds will be online and one- third will be in person.

About 70 to 80 faculty have volunteered to hold in-person classes for courses that are difficult for remote learning, such as nursing, auto mechanics, dental hygiene and culinary arts.

Many instructors are looking into different “modalities” of teaching, including hybrid courses that combine online and in-person sessions.

“Out of necessity, we are trying to find out which modalities do better,” Hokoana said. “It’s a great opportunity to find out what works well.”

When Lassner on May 4 announced that all 10 campuses would resume in-person instruction for the fall 2020 semester beginning Aug. 24, he noted that safety measures, such as social distancing and hygiene protocols, would need to be implemented.

“We all realize that the fall will absolutely not be a return to business as usual,” Lassner said in a message to the campuses.

According to UH, the protocols include:

• Preparing for greater use of online resources and some classes shifting to hybrid modes with a mix of on-campus and online instruction.

• Reviewing and reconfiguring, where necessary, of classrooms, labs, study areas and work spaces to support distances of at least 6 feet between people.

• Provisions and instructions to enable regular hand cleansing and hygiene.

• Protocols for testing, contact tracing and quarantine as needed in collaboration with public health officials.

Hokoana said UH-Maui College already is employing various COVID-19 measures and running through different scenarios to prepare for fall, such as screening students before entering class, measuring classrooms for social distancing, cleaning learning facilities between sessions and developing an on-campus contract tracing team.

“It’s not as easy as we thought,” said Hokoana as he described the staffing and procedures required to interview students before entering classrooms.

In addition, finding out which rooms can accommodate students with 6 feet of distancing is tricky.

“Literally, our maintenance guys had to come in and measure which ones can handle,” he said.

Hokoana acknowledged that in-person instruction is ideal and said he believes schools will eventually return to face-to-face learning.

“I will say this: It is my belief that face-to-face courses definitely work better than online,” he said. “There is a desire, I have a desire, to offer face-to-face courses because I know students perform better. We have to balance that with safety.”

In the meantime, Hokoana and other school administrators are working on the college’s June 3 virtual commencement.

“Our students have been troopers,” he said.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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