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Many Hawaii private schools cancel mainland and international travel due to coronavirus concerns

BRUCE ASATO / July 6, 2018
                                Punahou School is among the growing list of Hawaii schools that have canceled school-related travel for the rest of the academic year.
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BRUCE ASATO / July 6, 2018

Punahou School is among the growing list of Hawaii schools that have canceled school-related travel for the rest of the academic year.

Several private schools in Hawaii, including Punahou and ‘Iolani, have announced the cancellation of school-­related travel for the rest of the academic year due to the novel coronavirus.

Punahou School announced on its website that all school-sponsored travel to the mainland and international destinations through the rest of the academic year, which ends May 28, has been suspended.

Likewise, ‘Iolani School said it would cancel all school-related travel to mainland and international destinations for the rest of the academic year “due to the evolving situation regarding the coronavirus.”

“‘Iolani School has always recognized the importance of travel as a valued part of a well-rounded education,” said ‘Iolani’s head of school, Timothy Cottrell, in a letter to parents. “We are well aware that we have many clubs, teams, classes and groups planning trips from now through the end of the school year and that they have looked forward to these trips for many months. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to evolve, we must be committed to maintaining the health and safety of our students. I’m sorry to share news that will be very disappointing for some. As you know the travel situation around the world is in a state of unknown.”

Cottrell said interisland travel would remain an option as long as the situation in Hawaii remains stable.

Mid-Pacific Institute is asking its employees and families to reconsider nonessential travel from Hawaii to Level 2 and 3 countries such as China, South Korea, Italy or Iran, or U.S. states under a state of emergency.

If employees or families personally decide to travel to these areas, the institute asks that they share their travel plans with their supervisors or school principals prior to departure and upon return. They may be asked to remain at home for a 14-day period prior to returning to the school.

The institute’s president, Paul Turnbull, said in addition to postponed plans for international travel, it would reassess all future, student-related travel to the mainland for the rest of the academic year.

St. Andrew’s Schools, which includes The Priory, The Prep and Queen Emma Preschool, also has suspended all school-related travel to and from Level 2 and 3 countries. School employees will not travel to these countries for school-related purposes.

State schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto on Friday sent a letter to complex-area superintendents, principals, school health assistants and others informing them that all school-­sponsored travel to China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan was suspended until further notice.

Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan were not included.

It also offered a link to information on COVID-19 provided by the state Department of Health on its home page at hawaiipublicschools.org.

“The state Health Department and CDC are the lead agencies on this response and there is clear guidance in place,” said the DOE in a statement. “If a teacher or student demonstrated symptoms of the virus while at a HIDOE school or office, the Department would follow guidance from the state Health Department, as with any public health threat.”

The individual or their parents would be instructed to contact their health care provider for further investigation, said the DOE, and then under state guidelines, persons under investigation should not be allowed to attend school. If such cases were confirmed as COVID-19, the department would continue to follow DOH guidance to mitigate the spread of the virus.

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