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More coronavirus cases reported at Oahu public schools

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  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2017
                                Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee during a rally at the Hawaii State Capitol.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2017

    Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee during a rally at the Hawaii State Capitol.

The state Department of Education, which releases a tally of new COVID-19 cases weekly, said today six employees from six public schools have tested positive for the virus between Aug. 8 and 14.

However, Hawaii State Teachers Association reported a slightly higher number of employees at seven Oahu public schools since Wednesday, citing notifications teachers received from administrations at various campuses.

As students prepare to return to public school campuses Monday, HSTA officials said today that at least one employee from each campus at Holomua Elementary, Leihoku Elementary, Roosevelt High and Waikele Elementary has tested positive for the virus. DOE officials said the union’s reported cases from Wahiawa Middle, Fern Elementary and Mililani High have yet to be be confirmed.

The tally, released weekly by the state Department of Education, totaled 15 COVID-19 cases on public school campuses dating back to June 26. However, HSTA said today there were a total of 20 cases.

“The HSTA is doing our best to inform the public and parents about each individual school, but the teachers’ union should not have to do the job of the Department of Education and the Department of Health. The DOE and DOH should inform the public as each case occurs,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee in a statement. “We appreciate the efforts of administrators in this difficult time who are notifying parents, such as Fred Murphy at Mililani High. Other principals need to follow his fine example.”

Thousands of students are set to return to school Monday and will rotate going to campus for the first four days to prepare for distance learning in case it’s needed.

HSTA said returning to school is unsafe for teachers, and it filed a complaint to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board asking to stop the state from forcing teachers to return to campus.

Some campuses have set up “grab-and-go” pickups for distance material, such as computers and back-to-school forms, and others offering one-on-one appointments with students or are scheduled in class for only part of the day.

HSTA said that principals are telling staff to also conduct contact tracing because of DOH “shortcomings.” Contact tracers are overwhelmed, and the department is understaffed and mismanaged, the union said.

Correction: This story has been updated to include cases recorded by the state Department of Education, which reported different numbers from the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
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