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Molokai High employee tests positive for virus

School cleans facilities, alters grab-and-go meal pick-up locations

A Molokai High School employee who was last on campus Sept. 4 has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the school.

“The affected employee was last on the Molokai High School campus on Friday, September 4th and had minimal interaction with staff and no interaction with students,” according to a joint letter from the administrations of Molokai High, Molokai Middle, Kaunakakai Elementary and Maunaloa Elementary on Sunday. “Any impacted areas were professionally cleaned and disinfected over the weekend.”

The schools added that “the case had the potential to indirectly affect meal service at multiple campuses” and that out of an abundance of caution, they would be modifying the location for grab-and-go pick-up meals for Molokai High and Molokai Middle starting today.

The grab-and-go location for both the middle and the high school will change to the bus lane fronting Molokai High until further notice.

Grab-and-go locations will remain the same for Maunaloa Elementary and Kaunakakai Elementary.

Meal pick-up times will remain the same:

• Kaunakakai Elementary: Breakfast from 7:15 to 7:45 a.m., lunch from 11 to 11:30 a.m.

• Maunaloa Elementary: Breakfast from 7:15 to 7:45 a.m., lunch from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.

• Molokai Middle/Molokai High: Breakfast from 7:15 to 7:45 a.m., lunch from 12 to 12:30 p.m.

The schools said Rep. Lynn DeCoite had helped to secure an alternative meal provider to keep the grab-and-go meal service going without interruption.

State Department of Education spokeswoman Nanea Kalani said Sunday evening that the person is an employee of Molokai High School but that she could not disclose their position.

She said that Molokai High’s kitchen serves as the main kitchen for all four schools’ meal services, and that it had been cleaned but was not being used.

A vendor is providing the food for the schools’ meal services.

Molokai High Principal Katina Soares said Sunday evening that several employees of the high school are in quarantine as potential close contacts of the recent case. No middle school staff have needed to be quarantined.

Most of Molokai High’s 340 students have been taking classes virtually since the school year started. Soares said that fewer than 10 students who are “unable to independently live or learn” come to campus for instruction. Staff that work with students in person have protective equipment available to them that includes gowns, N95 masks and gloves.

Very few teachers share rooms, so most work alone, she added. A couple of facilities are being shared, but teachers are socially distanced.

Soares said the school was unable to open to students because some facilities are under construction, including the band room, the cafeteria and the B wing that holds six classrooms.

“If we had more students on campus, it would be too many for the shared space,” she explained.

Once construction is done at the end of the quarter, they hope to bring more kids on campus.

Soares said the recent uptick in cases on Molokai is “definitely” concerning. The island reported four more cases Friday, bringing its total throughout the pandemic to 13.

“We’re all very concerned because any number for us is, per capita, huge, and everyone’s interconnected,” Soares said. “We are one big family, basically.”

She emphasized the importance of social distancing and not having large gatherings.

On Sunday, the state Department of Health reported 114 new cases, including 96 on Oahu, 16 on Hawaii island and two on Maui. On Saturday there were 131 new cases, including 115 on Oahu, 10 on Hawaii island and six on Maui.

Statewide there now have been 10,700 cases, with 9,654 on Oahu, 587 on Hawaii island, 375 in Maui County (including 13 on Molokai and none on Lanai) and 58 in Kauai County. Twenty-six have been diagnosed out of state.

The state Department of Health also reported three deaths on Oahu over the weekend, pushing the statewide total to 99 COVID-related fatalities, including 86 on Oahu, nine in Maui County, three on Hawaii island and one out of state.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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