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Hawaii News

‘Campus is dead,’ UH president says

  • Senate Special Committee on COVID-19

Monday represented the first day of full online instruction for 50,000 University of Hawaii students and 10,000 employees around the system, UH President David Lassner told the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Normally, less than 10% of campus learning is done online, but the technology seemed to bear up under the new load of distance learning.

“Nothing crashed,” Lassner said.

Some students “who literally have nowhere to go” remain in UH residence halls at Manoa and Hilo, including local students and others from communities with high rates of COVID-19 infections, such as China, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and New York, Lassner said.

UH officials “have both critics and fans” for every coronavirus-related decision they’ve made, which included canceling graduation, Lassner said.

He called the decision to leave some students in residence halls — with the direction to maintain social distancing — “maybe the riskiest decision we’ve made.”

Campus food service is restricted to deliveries and grab-and-go meals.

Otherwise, “Campus is dead,” Lassner said. “It feels like people are heeding the do-not-come-to-campus request.”

But Jan Gouveia, UH’s vice president for administration, told senators that UH is seeing more homeless people on campus after both the city and state closed their parks.

There are “extra signs of vandalism,” she said.

Campus security guards are doubling up but face the extra challenge of confronting homeless people while trying to keep 6 feet away, she said.

Like students around the country, Lassner said some UH students are requesting pass/fail grades this semester.

At the same time, UH officials “are trying to complete the spring semester,” Lassner said. “It is our intent to deliver a University of Hawaii education.”

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