Equity and Access

HIDOE remains committed to ensuring access to a high-quality education for all students regardless of geographic location, economic status, academic ability or language proficiency. Dedicated supports are available for vulnerable students, including those with special needs, students in unstable housing, and English learners.

Updated Oct. 9, 2020
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Supports for Vulnerable Students

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Upon reopening in the fall, schools shall conduct Individualized Education Program (IEP)/Section 504 meetings to determine each student's need to compensate for loss of skills that resulted from the closure of our school facilities. Parent(s)/legal guardian(s) are vital to this process. As such, it is imperative that schools engage their participation in decision-making.

Services beyond the typical school day may be necessary and are referred to as COVID-19 Impact Services. COVID-19 Impact Services for instruction and related services may include, but are not limited to: 

  • In-person homogenous small-group intervention sessions before or after school
  • Online (synchronous) homogenous small-group, before or after-school intervention sessions
  • Skill-based Learning Labs before or after school
  • Mobile Learning Hubs 

Schools must be mindful of students with disabilities in determining their instructional model. Placement in the least restrictive environment continues to be a regulatory requirement under state and federal laws. Physical and social distancing and the creation of cohort classes shall not result in the segregation of students with disabilities. Small-group pullout (resource or related services) should be limited to the students within a specific class cohort. If students composing the small group are from various class cohorts, that service should be provided virtually when possible. 

Teachers must continue efforts to ensure inclusion of students with disabilities in their online virtual classroom sessions. Accommodations and modifications based on an individual students' needs are required. Virtual learning as an instructional choice within a school model may constitute a change in placement for a student with a disability and thus require the IEP team to convene. 

Students with disabilities negatively impacted by distance learning during spring 2020 should be prioritized to receive in-person instruction and services. Schools are reminded to design learning opportunities within their school model that ensure this student population is served. 

Schools must continue to complete pending initial and reevaluation assessments. Please note that in certain cases, a review of existing data is sufficient to make a determination and develop a program. Utilizing data from multiple sources and avoiding overreliance on standardized norm referenced tests when making eligibility decisions is paramount. The limited diagnostic accuracy of standardized assessments and utility of evidence-based assessment techniques should always be considered.

Additional information from the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education's (HIDOE) Office of Student Support Services is available here.


Microlearning Hubs

This school design concept pushes learning into the communities to serve as hubs where authentic project-based learning, hands-on sustainability lessons, and applied arts can take place, while expanding WiFi access. HIDOE recently completed neighbor island pilots — in Ka‘ū and Pāhoa on Hawai‘i Island, Hāna on Maui, Moloka‘i and Kaua‘i — and will continue to build this out as a new model to engage students in isolated areas who are struggling to come to school. More information will be forthcoming as the program expands and as more resources become available.


Digital Transformation for Learning Plan

The HIDOE Digital Transformation for Learning Plan reflects our equity focus for school year 2020-21 - equity of access to technology, pushing digital supports into communities, ʻohana help desk and expansion of HIDOE's distance learning platform.

The recent distance-learning survey data from teachers, principals, secondary students and families show that students generally have fair access to devices and internet connectivity. However, needs vary by complex areas and school communities. 

Families who report having children in foster care, living in shelters, living with other families due to economic hardships, or living in public housing report having less computers and devices available for their child’s distance learning and access to reliable internet access. Survey results also show students and families identifying as Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders are less likely to have sufficient devices and reliable internet connectivity for distance learning. 

Schools continue to distribute devices and hotspots to students doing distance learning. The Department continues to work towards ensuring that all students have access to devices and connectivity distance learning, with 49,244 devices purchased or currently being purchased, as well as 17,347 hotspots purchased. Principals prioritized distribution of devices by parent request, economically challenged families including homeless and migrant populations, students with disabilities, English language learners, and students in specific grades. The Department continues to work towards ensuring that all students have access to devices and connectivity for distance learning.

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