School Design

State, complex area and school leaders continue to work collaboratively to establish purposeful instructional designs and models that ensure every student is highly engaged in rigorous, creative and innovative academic curriculum and learning environments. HIDOE is committed to ensuring that school design decisions and modifications prioritize and support the needs of students and their families during this uncertain time.

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Updated April 9, 2021

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The following dashboard reflects school models currently being implemented during the fourth quarter of school year 2020-21. Schools may be using a combination of models; however, the dashboard reflects the primary model impacting the majority of the students. The dashboard will be updated on an as needed basis. Click here to view the school models for elementary, middle/intermediate and secondary schools.

School Models

For SY 2020-21, school leaders created elementary, middle/intermediate, and high school models for the reopening of the school year. Multi-leveled schools and boarding schools may consider any of the approved models within the grade-level bands that they serve (i.e. a K-8 school may consider adopting an elementary or middle school model). 

School models may vary due to:

  • number and size of school facilities,
  • ability to accommodate enrollment numbers, and
  • impact of instructional staff vacancies.

Adoption and Approval of SY 2020-21 School Model

Consistent with the BOE principles of Working toward Togetherness, school leaders will work with their school communities to propose adjustments to school day schedules and delivery of instruction methods (face-to-face, distance learning, hybrid/blended).

All adopted models must be consistent with the Core Assumptions and approved by the Complex Area Superintendent. Complex Area Superintendents will assure that the models for their portfolio of schools are redesigned to support families with learners in multiple schools to the greatest extent possible. Exceptions to the presented models must be submitted, with justification, for approval to the Office of the Superintendent by the Complex Area Superintendent. As schools have their models approved, principals or their designees will work with their respective Complex Area Superintendent and teams to modify procedures for the smooth operations of the school.   

Any adjustments to the school models or school schedules will be communicated by schools upon the approval of the Complex Area Superintendent. Announcements will be made in a timely manner In cases of emergency. HIDOE, working under the direction of the state Department of Health, will direct immediate actions to be taken to ensure the health and safety of students and employees.

Each school model adopted must:

  • Ensure 180 days of instruction;
  • Prioritize Kindergarten through Grade 2 and Pre-Kindergarten students for face-to-face learning on campus (as applicable);
  • Prioritize vulnerable students, including but not limited to children with disabilities, English learners, and economically disadvantaged students, for face-to-face or online learning, as appropriate, on campus;
  • Allow for student support services to be provided;
  • Ensure compliance with social distancing and health and sanitation guidelines from state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
  • and Abide by the current collective bargaining agreements between the labor unions and HIDOE.

In selecting a model, schools should consider the impact on school operations, such as bus transportation and the delivery of meals to all students, the impact on personnel, and the delivery of non-academic learning activities such as social emotional learning.

HIDOE Virtual Offering

The approved school models provide for online and blended distance learning to support social distancing while ensuring academic learning continues in whatever environment students may be provided. All schools are preparing for the possibility of future school closures by increasing device accessibility to students, building teacher capacity for virtual engagement with their students, and offering online courses for credits towards graduation. While in-school, face-to-face instruction is preferred, there may be situations in which parents may choose virtual learning only. The Department is ready to support schools with identifying virtual solutions for their students. Working with their home school, once a parent selects a virtual-only option, the parent commits to this selection for the entire length specified in order to earn the credit or grade. 

Independent learning, learning support provided by an adult in the home; consultation with counselor from school will be available via virtual environment.   In a “self-paced” distance learning environment where students are working in different physical locations, parents or other caring adults will need to take on a larger role in supporting their child through:

  • Setting routines and expectations in partnership with the school for online learning. 
  • Creating a positive learning environment for their child including social-emotional supports.
  • Acting as a learning partner through engaging in discussion, modeling positive learning practices (e.g. reading aloud, asking questions), and connecting learning to family life and interests.  
  • Partnering with their child’s school to surface concerns and share their child's progress during full distance learning. 
  • Helping with technology orientation and navigation

Students in this program will not be able to join student activities that require in-person participation (e.g., assemblies, afterschool programming). Exception: Eligible students enrolled at high schools delivering in-person or blended learning models of instruction may start after school workouts on campus, per the March 3, 2021 memorandum, “Restarting Athletic Workouts on High School Campuses.”

Teacher support will be provided for assessing readiness for the next grade level but will not be able to provide alternative instructional activities or support with the return to in-person learning.

Reopening Thresholds
Learning Model Parameters, see HIDOE Core Assumptions here.

Assessment for Learning

Schools are encouraged to continue to assess all students from kindergarten through grade 12 to determine the students' readiness to meet the curricular standards of their current grade level. Schools may implement one of two options.

One option is for schools to utilize the Hawaii Multi-Tiered System of Support (HMTSS) to screen students to identify targeted needs. Schools will monitor student progress to inform instructional design for intervention and differentiation. (Please see our HIDOE link to HMTSS guide for best practices and considerations for student supports.)

The English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics universal screening will:

  • Be administered at the start of the school year (Fall);

  • Be aligned to the Hawaii Common Core; and 

  • Provide a measure of growth with screening also scheduled for mid-year (Winter) and year-end (Spring). 

The other option is for schools to administer school-developed tests to assess student needs. All grade-levels and course departments will begin their formative assessment cycle during the first two weeks of school.

  • The school-developed pre-tests will be aligned to the Hawaiʻi Common Core.

  • The pre-assessments will be used as an initial diagnostic to establish baseline instructional goals and personalization. 

  • Grade-levels and departments will administer 5-10 formative assessments for each summative assessment to be used to inform quarterly grade determination. 

This option may be used for other content areas or at schools that do not currently use a universal screener.

Afterschool Programs and Other Extended Programs Beyond the School Day

Photo credit: Ilima Intermediate

Schools may plan for programs and services that extend the school’s learning opportunities and care beyond the school day for their enrolled students on their school campuses by considering the community transmission data, and the capacity to maintain the core essential strategies and layering other mitigation strategies necessary to conduct activities safely. 

Use of private providers will require documented commitment to adhere to these expectations and adjust as needed to the learning models of the schools they serve in. Prior to the start of these services, the identification of shared spaces and expectations should be shared and communicated to the school staff.

Consistent with HIDOE’s Guidance for Restarting Athletics, the importance of reopening in-person learning in classrooms must be addressed ahead of competitive sports activities which involve mixing of students between schools


Student Travel: Proposed student travel will be considered based on community spread, county travel guidelines, and the strength tied to instructional and co-curricular programming, and subject to approval by Complex Area Superintendent for interisland and for all other destinations beyond Hawaii, State Superintendent.   

Employee Travel: Work-related travel shall, to the extent practical, should be kept to a minimum and limited to only critical needs. Although of value, mainland travel for professional development activities will not be approved. Use of teleconferencing and participation in webinars in place of travel is encouraged. 

Non-HIDOE Travel: On February 12, 2021, Governor David Ige signed a 18th Proclamation related to the State’s COVID-19 emergency. Based on his guidance, the state’s mandatory self-quarantine period for travelers entering the state and traveling counties continues to be 10 days. A Pre-Travel Testing Program still allows travelers an alternative to the state’s mandatory self-quarantine. 

For more information, view the March 11, 2021 memorandum from Supt. Kishimoto, Updated Travel Policy Relating to COVID-19


HIDOE is collaborating with the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, and various athletic leagues (Big Island Interscholastic Federation, Kauai Interscholastic Association, Maui Interscholastic League, and the Oahu Interscholastic Association) to establish requirements for restarting high school athletics. The requirements will incorporate National Federation of State High School Associations guidelines that were developed with guidance from the CDC.

On March 3, 2021, Superintendent Kishimoto released a memo regarding the restarting of athletic workouts on high school campuses. HIDOE's "Return to Learn: School Reopening Guidance for Restarting Athletics" should be utilized to restart on campus in-person workouts for HIDOE high school athletic programs.


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