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Schools slowly bringing students back

Lanai High & Elementary remain in distance learning

Kishimoto

Maui County public schools are slowly welcoming back more general population students to campuses, though Lanai High & Elementary School remains in virtual learning mode after a COVID-19 breakout on the island last month affected at least 32 students.

During a briefing on school reopening plans Tuesday morning before the House of Representatives Lower and Higher Education Committee, Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said that Lanai schools remain in the “learn from home” model “due to those high case counts.”

“As those start to come down, and we look at those metrics over time, we will determine if they remain in the learning from home (mode),” she added.

Lanai’s COVID-19 case count stands at 106. No new cases have been reported on the island for several days. The school implemented distance learning last month before finding out about the student cases. In a letter to parents on Oct. 30, the school explained that it will be in distance learning mode for the full second quarter, which runs through Dec. 18 and is then followed by winter break.

While Lanai is on distance learning, the metrics for Maui and Molokai point to in-person learning, Kishimoto said.

The Education Department said in an email Tuesday that schools have prioritized returning to campus students who have shown difficulty adjusting to distance learning, including students with disabilities, English learners and students whose home environment is not conducive to learning, such as students with connectivity issues or lack of stable housing.

The second phase of returning students to campus includes the youngest learners as well as students in “transition years,” as these are crucial academic milestones and social emotional development periods in a student’s educational experience, the department said.

Maui County’s schools so far have each implemented different methods of bringing back students to campus, with some yet to have the general population back.

The DOE said school leaders are basing their decisions in part on current case counts, positivity rates in communities, health and safety guidelines, and facility and workforce capacity.

Maunaloa and Kilohana elementary schools on Molokai and grades K-8 in Hana have in-person classes daily. Hana High has a hybrid rotation of students on campus daily.

Molokai Middle School has pods of students show up on different days, and Molokai High is slowly transitioning all students back to campus by Dec. 1.

Schools in the Lahainaluna Complex have been bringing students to campus who need additional support, the DOE said.

In the Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui complex, schools are slowly bringing back small groups of students to campus. However, not all are in full blended models where one group is on campus with face-to-face instruction while the other group is in distance learning, the DOE said.

That complex area plans to implement blended models in the third quarter as long as all safety precautions can be put in place and enforced, the DOE added.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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