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University of Hawaii to open Aug. 24 with social distancing

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Student Holly Flores ate her lunch near Hamilton Library on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus on Wednesday.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Student Holly Flores ate her lunch near Hamilton Library on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus on Wednesday.

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                University of Hawaii President David Lassner spoke at a news conference Wednesday in Manoa about new safety guidelines that will be implemented across the UH system.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    University of Hawaii President David Lassner spoke at a news conference Wednesday in Manoa about new safety guidelines that will be implemented across the UH system.

The University of Hawaii’s 10-campus system plans to start classes on Aug. 24 with accommodations in the era of COVID-19, including still-evolving social distancing requirements, masks for everyone and a one-third reduction in on-campus housing at UH-Manoa and UH-Hilo.

“Each campus is in its own unique situation,” UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said. “We had to make difficult decisions. … But this is all very fluid.”

The goal, especially at UH’s flagship Manoa campus, is to ensure that incoming freshman “still have that first-year experience,” Meisenzahl said.

So UH Manoa plans to reduce the number of on-­campus housing slots from 3,000 students to 2,000.

Non-Oahu freshman will be given first priority, followed by 64 student-­athletes, those with medical needs, 20 presidential and regents scholars and neighbor island students, Meisenzahl said. Every other student who has applied for student housing — no matter whether they are sophomores, juniors, seniors or Oahu freshman — will be selected for housing through a lottery that was conducted last spring, Meisenzahl said.

Even though UH-Hilo also plans to reduce its student housing by a third — from 900 spaces to 600 — the demand is likely to be less because only 80 students are on the current wait list, Meisenzahl said.

UH officials announced their plans Wednesday as state officials reported nine new adult cases of COVID-19 and one involving a child.

All are Hawaii residents. Four of the new cases involve an Oahu urgent care facility that state officials did not identify.

At the same time, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported that 1,786 passengers arrived on Tuesday, compared to 35,000 at the same time last year.

As of June 16, interisland passengers no longer face a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.

State officials on Wednesday also announced that a mandatory interisland travel and health form can now be submitted online within 24 hours of departure. The form includes health and contact information to trace contacts for passengers who become ill.

It’s available at health.hawaii.gov/travel.

Across the UH system, social distancing of at least six feet apart will be enforced, everyone who is not alone will be required to wear masks and faculty are expected to use face shields to allow them to be heard in class more clearly, Meisenzahl said.

Each UH office also is being reconfigured to spread workers apart, while some employees may work from home.

UH officials, however, cautioned that plans continue to evolve and further changes are expected before the start of the fall semester.

HOUSING OPTIONS

UH-Manoa students can seek additional housing through:

>> Hawaii Student Suites Corporate Office: 952-5377, hawaiistudentsuites.com

>> Hale Mahana: 379-3248, Online applicants can go to halemahana.com and apply coupon code HM20 to reduce the normal $200 application fee to $50.

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