As we approach the midpoint of the first quarter, the evolving pandemic demands our attention and focus to keep schools open and safe for students and employees. We continue to work closely with health officials and government leaders to respond with heightened monitoring and enforcement.
Schools have done a tremendous job welcoming students back to campus and are doing everything within their control to diligently implement the core essential strategies set by the Department of Health: Promoting vaccinations for staff and eligible students, staying home when sick, consistent and correct masking, and proper hand hygiene.
Interim Superintendent Hayashi has been visiting schools on Oʻahu, Hawai‘i Island, Maui and Kaua‘i over the past few weeks and said he’s seen firsthand students and staff consistently adhering to the mitigation strategies.
“Everywhere you turn, students are doing their part—children coming off the bus are all wearing their masks properly, students are masked up during recess and after school, hand-washing schedules are being followed,” Hayashi said. “Staff are doing a great job reinforcing the protocols and students at all grade levels are holding themselves and their friends and peers to those expectations. It demonstrates that we're all in this together and we have to take care of each other. That's our same message to the community.”
The Department is also making great strides in increasing vaccination rates among staff. As of Aug. 31, nearly 9 in 10 active salaried employees at schools and offices statewide—89%—are fully or partially vaccinated against COVID-19, according to eHR data. At the complex area level, vaccination rates are currently as high as 94% in both the Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani and Kaimukī-McKinley-Roosevelt Complex Areas. The Department’s state offices have a combined vaccination rate of 95%.
As a system we need to continue to be vigilant in educating employees, families and community members about the importance of performing a daily wellness check and keeping students home if they're not feeling well. Everyone has a role to play in our fight against COVID.
When applied consistently and in combination for a layered approach, the mitigation strategies have proven to be effective at quickly identifying cases and preventing further spread. This can be seen in the case counts being reported at schools and offices. The increased level of transmission in the broader community is not reflected in our schools due in large part to the hard work of our schools, employees, students and families.
The Department recently began publishing confirmed COVID case counts on our website to provide accurate and timely information to schools, staff, families, and the public. The Data Governance & Analysis developed an interactive dashboard that displays daily counts by school and office. The dashboard can be accessed at bit.ly/hidoe-covid-updates.
More resources: The Department's COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidance for School Year 2021-22 can be accessed at bit.ly/HIDOEsafetyguidance. Infographics on identifying close contacts in school settings and quarantine guidance can be accessed at bit.ly/HIDOEclosecontacts.