Health and Safety

The health and safety of our students and staff remains a top priority. Utilizing guidance from the Hawai'i State Department of Health, this section of the reopening plan will include information about cleaning and sanitation, campus visitors, personal protective equipment (PPE) and more. 


Updated Oct. 23, 2020

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The #OurKuleana project is a community initiative on Hawai‘i Island that involves developing campaigns that encourage people to take COVID safety precautions seriously. The above video is a Waiakea High School project featuring all schools in the Waiakea Complex.


View the Department's Health & Safety Handbook (Version 9 - October 23, 2020).



Wearing a Face Covering or Mask

Face coverings for adults and students must be worn when outside the classroom (e.g., moving from class to class, to an office, the library, or locker room) especially when physical distancing is difficult. Exceptions for face coverings/masks apply to those for whom it is not safe to do so due to age, medical condition, or other considerations. 

In the classroom setting, where the class is considered an ʻOhana Bubble, it is not required that students and teachers wear a mask if 6 feet of physical distance is adhered to. Facial recognition and expressions are very important social cues in a child’s development. A classroom full of mask-wearing students may cause unhealthy anxiety, especially for younger for students.

Adults/Staff:

  • To the extent possible, all adults should cover their mouths and noses with a cloth face cover (mask) while at school. When under six feet of physical distance from a student or other staff member, adults must wear a mask.
  • Wearing a face shield is not necessary for an adult unless working in a special setting such as the health room (receiving students who are sick) or interacting with students who have special needs or disabilities, where there is a higher risk of coming into contact with body fluids or respiratory droplets. A face shield should be worn with a face mask for maximum protection.
  • Staff are responsible to bring and properly maintain their own masks.

Students:

  • Masks must be worn when keeping six feet apart is not possible.
  • In a classroom setting, wearing a mask may be very difficult for younger students in grades Pre-K to 2nd grade, students with disabilities, or students who have underlying medical conditions. 
  • Elementary students should wear masks if it is likely they will touch their mouths and/or noses without wearing one.
  • When students are outside the classroom and when physical distancing is not feasible, masks must be worn. 
    • The Department of Health does not advise having students wear masks while playing at recess since wearing masks may be dangerous on the playground.
  • When students are not wearing a mask, they should avoid close proximity (minimum six feet apart) during group activities such as choir, band and exercising (physical education).
  • Parents/legal guardians are responsible for providing students with face coverings or masks. 

Disposable Masks:

  • Schools shall have backup disposable masks available for staff and students who need them. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements

All employees should practice proper social distancing by maintaining a six-foot distance to the extent possible, wash and/or sanitize your hands frequently, and practice and promote personal hygiene such as avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth and sneezing or coughing into a tissue and immediately throwing it away. If no tissue is available, reduce the spread of germs by coughing or sneezing into your elbow. All adults cover their mouths and noses with a cloth face covering or mask while at school when within six feet of a student or other staff member. A face shield must be worn with a face mask when six feet of distance can not be maintained between individuals (e.g., when interacting with students with disabilities).

When working in close contact with students (i.e., less than 6 feet away), it is not required to wear gowns, aprons, or shoe covers, but they may be considered. Plastic protective gowns and disposable shoe covers are not advised when addressing a student’s challenging behavior as they can be easily ripped or torn becoming hazardous and the shoe covers will provide less traction. However, plastic protective gowns or aprons may be considered when feeding a student, providing toileting or diapering support, or when cleaning and sanitizing especially when diluted bleach will be used or the clean-up involves bodily fluids. Disposable shoe covers may also be considered depending on the work involved. 

Disposable gloves must be worn if an employee is likely to touch bodily fluids. Disposable gloves are recommended when using a disinfectant, disposing of used tissues, changing linens or doing laundry. When working with medically fragile students, disposable gloves may be worn when touching a student or their belongings. Gloves must be changed after each physical interaction to decrease the spread of possible infection. Be sure to safely dispose of gloves after use and wash or sanitize your hands before and after use. Disposable gloves cannot be reused. For incidental touches, such as providing a light Safety Care elbow check, gloves are not needed but staff must sanitize or wash their hands before and afterwards. If gloves are unavailable when physically interacting with a student, wash hands before and immediately after touching the student or handling student belongings. 

Additional staff member(s) should be available to monitor and assist with bringing protective equipment for staff involved in any physical interactions. As soon as physical interaction is no longer needed, staff should remove and dispose of or clean and disinfect reusable protective equipment and wash their hands.  


Personal Protective Equipment

Photo credit: Waianae HighPersonal protective equipment (PPE) is defined as, but not limited to, gloves, masks, eye protection, gowns, aprons and boots. 

HIDOE school, complex area and state office requests for PPE will be filled to the highest standard achievable based on assessments of current and future PPE needs for individuals or groups of higher risk of exposure. Given the dynamic nature of the pandemic, requests are subject to considerations of the overall response needs and supply chain limitations. HIDOE continues to receive PPE supplies from the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency as well as purchases coordinated through the Department's Office of Facilities and Operations (OFO).

OFO will work and consult with HIDOE's Office of Talent Management and Office of Student Support Services to determine the appropriate PPE needed for various categories of employees. Needs will be based on the risk of exposure levels described by the Hawaiʻi State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

For a breakdown of PPE distribution by school, click here


Health Rooms and Services

To ensure physical distancing, temporary barriers should be installed and procedures for health room visits should be in place prior to the start of the school year. Students exhibiting symptoms of illness should be separated from other health room visitors.

The School Health Assistant (SHA) will play an important role in assessing and intervening when students report to the health room not feeling well. Information for staff, parents and students should be placed into the school's handbook that is distributed at the beginning of the school year. 

When a student becomes ill, the student should be sent to the health room. If there is no school health assistant on campus, the student should be sent to the designated staff member and the following steps should be followed:

  • The student's parent or guardian should be called to pick up the student. 
  • The student should be placed in a supervised, isolated area until he/she is picked up. Do not have the student wait at the main office.
  • Any student sent home due to illness should be excluded from school until fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of medication.

The following practices to prevent COVID-19 and other contagious viruses should be implemented in the health room:

  • Develop a route to the health room that minimizes interactions.
  • Avoid and prevent close contact.
  • SHA wears a face mask, eye protection (e.g. face shield), and gloves (discarded between students)
  • Face mask or tissue should be provided to student when in close contact and when student has symptoms of illness.
  • SHA and student should wash hands before and after each encounter.
  • Screen and send home any students who are ill.
  • Isolate those who are ill from others.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces after each use.
  • Promote good airflow while maintaining privacy.
  • Keep supplies in stock.


Cleaning and Sanitation

The cleaning schedule for school facilities should adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DOH as available. Proper PPE, such as masks and disposable gloves, should be worn at all times during the preparation, cleaning, and disinfection of school facilities.

EPA Disinfectant GuidanceSchool facilities should be cleaned daily and high-touch areas, such as door knobs, light switches, counters, desks and chairs, railings, and water fountains, should be disinfected frequently throughout the day. 

Outdoor areas, like playgrounds in schools, generally require normal routine cleaning, but do not require disinfection. Do not spray disinfectant on outdoor playgrounds - it is not an efficient use of supplies and is not proven to reduce the risk of COVID-19. High-touch surfaces made of plastic or metal, such as grab bars and railings, should be cleaned routinely. Cleaning and disinfection of wooden surfaces, like benches and tables, or groundcovers is not recommended. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a list of disinfectants that kills COVID-19, click here to view. 

See the Department's Health & Safety Handbook here, which includes cleaning and sanitation procedures in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case at a HIDOE office or campus. 


School Entrance, Exit & Student Transitions

Staggered entrance and exit protocols to allow for proper social distancing are coordinated at the school level. 


Campus Visitors

All visitors are required to report to the Administration Office upon arrival and follow social distancing guidelines established by health officials and any protocols implemented by the school. Nonessential visitors or volunteers, and activities involving different groups at the same time should be limited until the state's emergency order reaches "New Normal." 

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