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Office of the Governor News Release: Gov. Ige, Departments of Health and Education outline plan for safe return to school

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HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige, together with Department of Health Director Libby Char and Interim Schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi – outlined the state’s plan for getting students back into the classroom safely this week.


“One thing we’ve learned is that in-person learning is, for most students, critical for their academic and social success, as well as their overall wellbeing,” said Gov. Ige. “We also know that it will take the entire community to keep our students, faculty and staff safe at our 256 public schools.”


The state’s layered strategy to opening schools safely includes:


  • Vaccinations: Promoting COVID-19 vaccinations among all faculty, staff and eligible students 12 years of age and older.


  • Stay Home When Sick: Faculty, staff and students are urged to stay home when sick. The delta variant is highly transmissible, and we must work to break the chain of transmission.


  • Mask Up Indoors: Schools will ensure that there is correct and consistent masking indoors. The evidence is clear – wearing masks indoors or in large groups when outdoors, is the second-best way (next to vaccinations) to protect yourself and loved ones from the virus.


  • Hand Hygiene: Good hand hygiene will be emphasized in schools. Faculty, staff and students will be strongly encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water often, or at least to use hand sanitizer.


“Since this pandemic began a year and a half ago, my priorities have been protecting public health, re-energizing our economy and building stronger communities. Through this Back to School Safely program, we all share the responsibility of making sure our children, their teachers, and school staff members are safe, first and foremost,” said Gov. Ige.


”All of our schools are strictly adhering to the safety protocols and mitigation strategies to keep everyone safe. In-person learning contributes to the overall wellbeing of our students – from the availability of social and emotional support resources, to food security through our school meal program, through extra-curricular activities,” said Keith Hayashi, interim schools superintendent, Department of Education. “Right now, the state is open for business with no other industry shut down. Schools are ready to open as well, and we can do it safely.”


“The Department of Health has been working very closely with the Department of Education, and we feel that the benefits of kids being back in school far exceeds the risk. Part of that, is the layers of mitigation measures in place that enable us to open schools safely,” said Dr. Elizabeth Char, director, Department of Health. “As a community, we can help by getting vaccinated, wearing masks indoors and outdoors in crowded settings, and just minimizing your exposure. By doing this, we keep our community safe which will help protect our children who are too young to get vaccinated.”


Media Contacts:

Jodi Leong

Deputy Communications Director/Press Secretary

Office of the Governor

Office: 808-586-0043

[email protected]


Cindy McMillan

Communications Director

Office of the Governor

Office: 808-586-0012

[email protected]