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Unions call for delayed return of students to campus

By Staff | Jul 30, 2020

HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA), Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) and United Public Workers (UPW) urge the State of Hawaii and the Board of Education to delay the opening of school buildings to students.

The unions represent all bargaining unit employees on public school campuses. UPW represents custodians, cafeteria workers, skilled trades workers, school physical therapist aides, and occupational therapy assistants; HGEA represents principals, vice principals, athletic directors, athletic health trainers, cafeteria managers, educational assistants, security attendants, special services personnel, school health assistants, school custodian supervisors and clerical staff; and HSTA represents teachers, librarians, counselors and registrars.

The organizations do not feel the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) and the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) have done enough to properly create and implement health strategies to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on public school campuses.

“School buildings and facilities will not be safe for our keiki and staff until the following steps have been completed: The DOH provides written guidance on the reopening of school buildings; and all faculty and staff are properly trained and provided sufficient supplies, equipment and protocols to ensure our facilities are kept clean and our faculty, staff and students are safe,” the unions announced in a joint statement on July 22.

“We have a critical obligation to our communities to take every step and precaution necessary to ensure the safety of our students and members as we reopen schools.”