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Neighbor Island schools announce distance learning models to start 2020-21 school year

By Staff | Aug 14, 2020

HONOLULU – Complex area superintendents (CAS) on the Neighbor Islands last week announced the distance learning models that schools will be implementing on Aug. 17.

Public schools in Maui County – with the exception of Molokai schools and Hana High & Elementary – will transition to full distance learning for the first four weeks of the 2020-21 school year.

During the transition, school leaders will assess plans for the rest of the quarter. Schools will provide in-person special education services as appropriate and will serve as a learning hub to support students who lack internet access. Students and families are encouraged to utilize the ‘Ohana Help Desk, the nation’s first statewide, comprehensive technology support help desk to assist with distance learning.

“This transition prioritizes the health and safety of our students and staff while ensuring equity of access for high-needs and underprivileged students,” Hilo-Waiakea Complex Area Superintendent Esther Kanehailua said. “Student engagement and family needs during distance learning will be important factors in our decision-making as we move ahead.”

All Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui Complex Area schools will implement 100 percent distance learning for at least the first four weeks of school.

Lanai High and Elementary and schools in the Lahaina Complex will implement 100 percent distance learning for the first quarter of school. Schools on Molokai will implement face-to-face and blended learning as previously announced for the first quarter. Hana High and Elementary School will implement face-to-face learning for grades K-5 and a hybrid model for upper grades.

All schools in Maui County will follow the three-phase plan for distance learning below, with the exception of Molokai schools and Hana High & Elementary, as noted.

First phase, in-person training (Aug. 17-20): During the first week of school, students will physically return to campus on a coordinated and scheduled basis, determined by each individual school, to connect with their teacher, receive training on the distance learning platforms, and address issues with connectivity and access to technology. Special considerations will be given to vulnerable students and their families for more in-person access to the school and teachers.

Starting on Aug. 17, School cafeterias will be serving only grab-and-go meals for their enrolled students; in-person dining will not be allowed. After-school programs will be suspended until students return to in-person blended learning models.

Second phase, ready to learn (Aug. 24-Sept. 11) – For the remainder of the four week period, full distance learning will be implemented. Staff will report to their designated work sites for continued distance learning instruction. Special education services that cannot be provided in a distance learning format will be available in person. Supervised in-person learning labs at schools will be available for students who do not have Wi-Fi access.

Third phase, transition to blended learning or continue distance learning (Sept. 14) – HIDOE will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with the Governor’s Office and the Hawai’i State Department of Health to assess whether or not students can safely return to in-person blended learning models. If distance learning will continue for the remainder of the first quarter of school, an announcement will be made on Sept. 8 by each complex area superintendent.

Plans are subject to change as the COVID-19 situation evolves.