The Hawaii State Teachers Association today threatened to sue the state and the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE), alleging that our school reopening plan is “reckless” — a plan they jointly helped to build — and that our campuses are not safe for students.
Despite the Department’s efforts to work collaboratively and productively with the teachers union, its president Corey Rosenlee continues to work against what is in the best interest of Hawaii’s children under the false pretense of “Schools Our Keiki Deserve.”
What our keiki deserve is time to train and connect with their teachers to prepare before we shift to full distance learning for the next few weeks.
The union’s misleading claim that “tens of thousands” of students will be receiving face-to-face learning on campuses next week is a scare tactic that follows multiple publicity stunts to create further anxiety at a time when we need sound leadership.
As previously announced, our school leaders have designed plans to have students return to campus in a coordinated manner next week, as needed, to connect with their teacher, receive training on distance learning platforms if necessary, and address issues with connectivity and access to technology. In many cases, schools have designated one hour a day for certain grade levels to accomplish this, while enforcing safety protocols around social distancing and face coverings.
Mr. Rosenlee encouraged teachers to show up for paid training days over the past two weeks, and now he is telling teachers not to show up for students. The union demanded this additional training for teachers, at a cost of nine fewer instructional days for students, but is trying to prevent students from having the same opportunity.
Teachers have been back on campus full time since July 29, and we have no evidence of widespread transmission on any of our campuses. We have had individual cases at individual campuses, as we reported earlier this week, and will continue to report on weekly moving forward.
Over the summer months, when we had over 8,000 students engaging in some type of face-to-face or blended summer program, in addition to staff who supported these activities, we saw one case each at six campuses.
We will not allow Mr. Rosenlee to script out the work our principals need to do to lead, nor drive a wedge between our principals and their staff. Our students have physically been out of school since spring break. It’s time we all put the futures of our students first. That’s what our keiki truly deserve.