Family and Community

HIDOE values its place within Hawaiʻi's communities, where neighborhood schools serve not only as learning centers but as hubs for collaboration and community engagement. HIDOE seeks to strengthen community bonds through a variety of initiatives, including distance-learning training for families, IT help and telehealth services, and partnerships for design-based learning opportunities.

‘Ohana Help Desk

With an increasing dependence on technology for distance learning, the Department is extending its IT Help Desk functions to families. The ‘Ohana Help Desk will provide technology support to students and families. The help desk is scheduled to launch on Aug. 4, 2020.

‘Ohana Training and Informational Sessions

In addition to the ʻOhana Help Desk, the Department is continuing to develop training and information to help families develop technology knowledge and skills as they continue to participate in online learning opportunities. Families also have access to the Department's Continuity of Education website which has information and guidance for online learning. More information will be provided as training and information is developed and made available to families.

Device Loan Program

The Department continues to address the "homework gap" by finding ways to get devices and internet access into the hands of our high need students. HIDOE is developing a process to loan devices to students with limited or no device or internet access at home. Parents in need of support should connect with their school to make this request. Parents who are investing in a family device can contact the teacher to learn about the type of device being used for instruction at the school.


The Department partnered with the Hawaiʻi Keiki Program to offer a telehealth hotline during school closure and summer months. All HIDOE students can access a free resource for any health-related questions and telehealth services through July 24, 2020. Please see Hawaiʻi Keiki Health Hotline and Telehealth. A modified hotline will go into effect in August to address student needs when school resumes.

Communications Plan

As the 10th largest school district in the nation and the only State Education Agency and Local Education Agency, HIDOE and its schools are charged with communicating to a wide range of audiences, including 22,000 full-time employees, 20,000 part-time employees, 180,000 students and their families, government officials, community partners and more. 

The Department uses a diverse toolkit of communication channels to enhance engagement and ensure that the majority of its internal and external stakeholders can be reached during a crisis situation. 

Statewide Communication

HIDOE will continue to share statewide updates about the 2020-21 school year and COVID-19 impacts, including school and office closures, on its public website, intranet and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn). Internal updates will also be emailed to official Google accounts as needed.

Due to the large number of employees, students and families served by the Department, there will be situations where important and urgent messages are communicated through traditional media including news stations, newspapers and radio. 

The statewide leadership team made up of key superintendents and key directors meeting twice a week for briefings and decision making. Complex area superintendents are charged with communicating with their complex area team and school leaders. 

Multiple forms of communication and feedback loops are utilized for issue-based recommendations and includes:

  • Deputy Superintendent's Principal Roundtable
  • Principals' forums (e.g., elementary, middle/intermediate and high school)
  • COVID-19 Response Team
  • Situational crisis response teams 

School-level Communication

Schools are encouraged to create a communications timeline to share information and updates about the 2020-21 school year with key school community stakeholders (e.g. staff, parents, students, area lawmakers, partners, vendors, etc.). 

Key messages and updates that schools should anticipate communicating include, but are not limited to:

  • Selection of school model;
  • Updated school handbook;
  • Health and safety guidelines;
  • Updated school supply lists in response to COVID-19 impacts;
  • Loaner devices;
  • Potential positive COVID-19 case;
  • Changes in school processes and procedures (e.g., pick-up and drop-off routines, campus visitors).

 Schools should audit their communication channels to ensure that they are working properly, the appropriate staff have access and log-in information, contacts are up to date, and to determine whether or not additional channels are needed to communicate with internal and external school community audiences. 

Communication channels include:

  • SchoolMessenger
  • Social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube)
  • HIDOE Gmail
  • School website
  • HIDOE-approved education applications

HIDOE's Communications Branch is tasked with providing support during crisis situations including media relations, school-level messaging such as letters to parents and staff, SchoolMessenger copy, and coordinating a communications response with Department leadership.

In the event of an emergency or crisis situation, schools should follow communication protocols in HIDOE's Emergency Operations Plan.

If media contacts a school, administrators are encouraged to work with the Communications Branch to ensure accurate and timely information is provided while also protecting student and employee privacy, as required by law. 

Communications Branch contacts:

  • Main phone line: (808) 784-6200 (staffed Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)
  • Email address: (monitored Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; however, in an emergency situation it is not recommended to email this account.) 
  • For after-hour emergencies, administrators should make sure they have the cell phone number for the Communications Director. If not, they can contact (808) 784-6200 during business hours to get it or work with their complex area superintendent.

Major partnerships

HIDOE welcomes and encourages sponsorships and collaborative opportunities that strengthen and enhance school programs and help build solidarity and goodwill within the entire school community.

Public schools and public school students benefit from sponsorships and public-private partnerships that often include contributions of resources to support schools’ educational programs. 

Learn more about Partnerships and Collaborative Opportunities.

Data reports

The Department is committed to collecting and reporting qualitative and quantitative data around health and safety, equity, programs and operations to inform decision-making on curriculum, instruction, and student supports. Examples include:

2030 Promise Plan community feedback


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