Spotlight Hawaii welcomed two guests Friday to discuss the latest in Hawaii’s public schools during the coronavirus pandemic and the new online Safe Travels application.
Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee gave an update on how teachers are doing now that school is back in session. Douglas Murdock, chief information officer of the State Office of the Enterprise Technology Services, shared more about Safe Travels.
“The state of our teachers right now is stressed,” Rosenlee said. “Distance learning is much more difficult and a lot of our teachers feel like they are reinventing the wheel when it comes to how they teach.”
Rosenlee said HSTA members are frustrated by the lack of information about distance learning provided by the state Department of Education.
“That’s one of HSTA’s biggest frustrations, is we don’t know,” Rosenlee said. “The policies are being handled at a school level or at a complex area level, and so we don’t know how many students are on each campus, we don’t know how many teachers are on each campus.”
Rosenlee said DOE is not reporting by school when there are COVID-19 cases on campuses.
“So there’s no data to suggest whether or not schools that are having more people on campus are actually having more cases, and you would think that that kind of data would be very important for people making decisions and it’s just not being shared right now,” he said.
The DOE, which releases a tally of new COVID-19 cases weekly, said today a total of 25 individuals tested positive for COVID-19 between Aug. 29 and Sept. 4.
Rosenlee was skeptical about school resuming in-person classes next month as planned.
“There’s no research right now that American schools of a large enough size can open effectively. And until there is such research that can show that, we should be going to distance learning for our students and their teachers,” he said.
Murdock joined the second half of the program to discuss the Safe Travels application, a form that all travelers entering the state of Hawaii or traveling from Oahu to any neighbor island must complete. The form collects health and travel information aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus and making contact tracing easier in the event of a known COVID-19 case.
“We have some different purposes in mind in building the application. One is to be able to protect the health of our residents and our visitors, to make sure we know who is coming in who might have health issues related to COVID-19 that we need to address. And then to be able to enforce the quarantine, to have real-time information, for our law enforcement and for our health officials,” he said.
Murdock continued, “And then to get us ready to be able to re-open the economy so that we can handle the negative COVID-19 tests when they start coming in as part of allowing travelers to come in without being in quarantine.”
Travelers are encouraged to fill out the form before arriving at the airport, within 24 hours of their flight. The form can be found at travel.hawaii.gov.
Spotlight Hawaii, which shines a light on issues affecting Hawaii, airs live 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Join Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies this month for a conversation with guests. Click here to watch previous conversations.