Contingency Planning

As the Department moves forward with reopening schools, contingency plans are regularly being reviewed and updated. From a designated emergency planning team to COVID-19 monitoring and reporting, the Department continues to plan for the possibility of additional interruptions to the school year as a result of COVID-19.

Updated Oct. 15, 2020
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COVID-19 Emergency Planning Team

The Hawai‘i State Department of Education's (HIDOE) COVID-19 Response Team monitors the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), Governor's Office, and Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) communications and guidance to ensure the Department's plan is consistent and updated. 

HIDOE plays a significant role in providing support, expertise, coordination, and facilities to address community needs. As such, the Department works closely in local jurisdictions with the mayor and DOH to coordinate timely response to COVID-19 situations. The statewide approach is noted in the Department's Emergency Operations Plan

School leaders know their communities best and therefore assist in determining the best ways of informing families of issues that may be impacting the operations of their school. State-level offices work with principals to assist in completing tasks around communication, problem-solving, and next steps for returning to normal operations as soon as safely possible.

The response to large scale emergencies that require state resources to support the affected jurisdiction(s) will be coordinated by the HI-EMA and supported by HIDOE. In the event of a pandemic outbreak, the HIDOE shall take direction from the Governor, HI-EMA, DOH, and the counties' Department of Emergency Management.

HIDOE's COVID-19 Response Team members include: Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami, Office of Facilities and Operations Assistant Superintendent Randall Tanaka, Office of Student Support Services Assistant Superintendent Heidi Armstrong, Office of Talent Management Assistant Superintendent Cynthia Covell, School Health Section Administrator Jennifer Ryan, Auxiliary Services Specialist Jeremy Koki and COVID-19 Response Team Coordinator Lindsay Chambers.


HIDOE Response Levels

Response Level 1: Prevention & Sanitation

  • Context: Risk of limited community transmission. At the time, no confirmed cases in Hawai‘i
  • HIDOE Goal: Prevention of community spread.
  • HIDOE Actions:
    • Establish a HIDOE Response Team
    • Establish contact with key partner agencies, such as DOH.
    • Review Governor's proclamation and determine HIDOE actions.
    • Work with the Hawai‘i State Public Charter School Commission to establish protocols and decision-making authority.
    • Establish agreements with private schools for communication and sharing resources.

Response Level 2: Targeted Social Distancing

  • Context: Sustained (ongoing) community transmission. Confirmed case(s) in Hawai‘i.
  • Prepare for the possibility of a student, family member or employee contracting the disease.
  • HIDOE Actions: 
    • Establish decision-making protocols and communicate to the schools, complex areas, state offices and the charter school commission.
    • Identify programs and services that will be disrupted at Level 3.
    • Begin weekly HIDOE Response Team meetings.
    • Request that the Board of Education consider alternative ways of convening for decision-making should there be a statewide shutdown, and discuss emergency considerations for graduation requirements.

Response Level 3: School or Neighborhood Social Distancing

  • Context: Widespread, sustained (ongoing) transmission.
  • HIDOE Goal: Respond to case(s) at a school (e.g. sick student, family member or employee).
  • HIDOE Actions: 
    • Establish and communicate authority to initiate actions in the event of Response Level 4 – complete shutdown of all public schools, complex areas, state offices and the charter school commission.
    • Determine protocols for continued situational awareness and for initiating the reopening of schools.
    • Address with HI-EMA the coordination of announcements and decision-making for public and school communities.

Response Level 4: Increasing Regional, Island-wide or Statewide Threat

  • Context: Widespread, sustained (ongoing) transmission and restrictions on entry to the U.S.
  • HIDOE Goal: Respond to the spread of case(s) in Hawai‘i, including schools.
  • HIDOE Actions:
    • Develop HIDOE Continuity of Education resource websites for educators and parents/students.
    • Determine the need to revise summer school schedules and offerings to make up for the loss of school days.
    • Submit waiver request to U.S. Department of Education for Hawai‘i state accountability modifications for the Every Student Succeeds Act.
    • Conduct deep cleaning of school and office facilities.

Interruption to School Year

In the event of an immediate need for school closure due to a case of COVID-19, the principal will contact the complex area superintendent to get approval for the initial or temporary closing of a classroom, office or school.  

Based on the timing to clean and sanitize the facilities and adhere to the health and safety guidelines at the time of the event, long-term school closures will be approved by the Superintendent in collaboration with the school and complex area.   

Communications regarding the school closure and re-opening will be coordinated between the school and the Communications Branch, as multiple methods of informing families will be needed (e.g., SchoolMessenger, website,  social media, and traditional media.)

As long as educational programming can be offered, even with the closing of the school facilities, the Department will continue to instruct students and take attendance. 

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