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Health, education officials work to mitigate COVID spread as public schools see cases rise


HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – With COVID cases climbing in Hawaii public schools, education and health officials said that the safety protocols currently in place are working to mitigate the spread of the virus.

The state Department of Education reported there were 325 confirmed positive cases across public schools last week.

The DOE superintendent said that with more than 200,000 students and employees across the DOE, that number is a testament to school safety protocols.

Although the number of cases did grow from the first week of school, where there was only 105 — according to the state health director, schools are doing a good job of keeping people safe.

Dr. Libby Char said in a press conference Friday that she believes there has been some spread in schools, but she said that they’ve expected that to happen and it has been minimal because of the safety precautions at schools.

Char said that there isn’t an exact threshold as to when the state Department of Health will advise the DOE to switch to online learning.

According to Rochelle Mahoe, the superintendent for the Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani Complex Area, there is a plan in case schools need to make the switch for full distance learning.

“All of our schools are prepared, at least for this complex area,” she said. “We’ve talked about in the summer, but we hope that doesn’t happen.”

Both teachers and parents have expressed concern over safety protocols and whether or not it is enough.

But the DOH and the superintendent of the DOE said that the numbers show that schools are doing a good job of keeping people safe.

Wilson Elementary School hasn’t had a confirmed case of the virus yet, and staff hope it never will.

”We’re lucky we have no cases so far,” said David Hunter, a vice principal for Wilson Elementary. “We’re very thankful that our parents and staff, everyone here is playing a big part in that.”

Ryan Amine, the principal of the school, said that parents do daily wellness checks at home and staff abide by DOH guidance.

”We know that our students are not vaccinated yet,” Amine said. “So it’s really critical for us to really emphasize and reinforce those core mitigation strategies.”

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

This content was originally published here.

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