Grab-and-Go School Meal Program Extended at Select Sites

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) Grab-and-Go school meals program will be extended at select meal sites for an extra four days beyond the end of the school year on May 28 and transition to the summer meal program which runs through July 17. The schools below will provide meals to children 18 years or younger, free of charge, regardless of eligibility for free or reduced price meals.

On May 29, some distribution sites will stop serving meals during the summer break. Kauai school sites will stop serving on May 29 and restart on Jun. 8. Sponsor sites at public agencies, churches and nonprofit organizations will begin serving meals to children at additional locations in communities to support keiki.

Parents are urged to check the revised lists below, as the Grab-and-Go sites they currently visit may be closing. Meal distribution will continue to provide grab-and-go servings in walk-up and drive-thru lines. Dine-in options will not be available. Children do not have to be enrolled at the school distribution site and do not have to be public school students.

For special diet accommodations, email specialdiets@k12.hi.us.

Student meals may be picked up without children present but parents and guardians must provide one of the following verification documents:

• Official letter or email from school listing child(ren) enrolled • Recent student report card(s)
• Attendance record(s) from parent portals of school websites

• Birth certificate(s) of child(ren)Student ID card(s)
• Driver’s permit/license(s) for high school students • State-issued ID of the student

DHS Releases New Guidance & Contract Opportunities for Child Care Facilities

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has released new guidelines for minimizing the risk of COVID-19 to children, staff and families when resuming or continuing child care operations. The guidelines are based on public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hawai’i Department of Health.

Every child-care facility and home that continues to operate or reopens shall establish and follow written operational policies that address the guidelines consistent with Governor Ige’s Eighth Supplementary Emergency Proclamation. Minimizing the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus to children in care depends on every facility and home consistently applying these public health practices.

The Guidelines for Child Care Facilities that cover public health measures include the following areas:

     1.  Cleaning and sanitizing     4.   Facility safety
     2.  Physical distancing     5.   Parent and child expectation
     3.  Health and safety     6.   Employee support

“As the state continues to re-open, we know that childcare is essential. Without a safe place for their children, many people will have a hard time returning to their work,” said Gov. David Y. Ige.

DHS Launches Contract Opportunity for Child Care Providers 

Eligible child care providers may now apply for $11.9 million of additional federal funds to increase the safety and protect the health of children in their care. Congress appropriated the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) block grant award as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March.

DHS has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Emergency Child Care Services and will award contracts to eligible providers to cover cleaning and sanitation of the child care facility or home or other activities necessary to maintain or resume the operation of the child care, including health and safety measures for the facility, health and safety measures for the child in care and for staff or caregivers.  All licensed and registered child care facilities and homes, as well as organizations contracted by the Department of Education (DOE) to operate A+ sites at elementary school campuses, are eligible to apply. The deadline to apply is July 31, 2020.

This RFP will help the state meet the goal of having every child care facility and home meet the standards established in the guidelines.

Documents below can be found on the DHS GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES FOR CHILD CARE FACILITIES AND HOMES DURING COVID-19 (click here) page on the DHS website.

  • The Application and Proposal form for DHS Emergency Child Care Services Contract.
  • The Agreement for DHS Emergency Child Care Services.
  • Frequently Asked Questions About the DHS Emergency Child Care Services Contracts.

“DHS values all that child care providers do for our families and children, and we recognize the vital importance of child care for Hawaii’s economic recovery. We look forward to partnering with providers as they take the necessary public health measures to minimize the risk of exposure to children, staff, and families,” said Pankaj Bhanot, director, Department of Human Services.

For more information, visit http://humanservices.hawaii.gov.

UH Mānoa Announces SAT, ACT Test-Optional Admission Policy for 2021-2022

Prospective first-year college students applying to the University of Hawaiʻi for the fall 2021 semester can now do so without submitting SAT or ACT scores. The exemption applies only to incoming 2021-2022 undergraduate applicants, who may still submit test scores as part of their admissions application, if they choose to. 

“These are unprecedented times and we at UH Mānoa want to do what we can to help,” stated Roxie Shabazz, UH Mānoa Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Director of Admissions. “We’ve all been impacted one way or another by COVID-19. By offering this option, we are confident that for fall 2021, we will still attract an applicant pool of students that will thrive academically at UH Mānoa.”

The College Board canceled the SAT exams scheduled in May and June, impacting many prospective UH Mānoa students scheduled to graduate from high school next year. 

“This spring season is critical for the high school junior, but unfortunately due to the COVID-19 challenges, a vast majority were unable to take their exam,” said Ryan Yamaguchi, UH Mānoa associate director of admissions. “We want to make sure these students are not unfairly impacted by this unprecedented crisis.”

More information can be found on the UH Mānoa Admissions website

There are no changes at UH Hilo and UH West Oʻahu where standardized tests are not used as a principal criteria in the application process. College admissions tests are not required for admission to the UH Community Colleges.  

Senator Inouye Announces Funding for Covered Playcourt at Kalaniana‘ole Elementary & Intermediate

Senator Lorraine R. Inouye announced that $500,000 in Capital Improvement Projects funds were released Thursday, May 21, by Governor David Ige for the design of a covered playcourt at Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole Elementary and Intermediate School in Papaikou.

Sen. Inouye said “I am pleased that the Governor has released the funds for a covered playcourt at Kalaniana‘ole Elementary & Intermediate. As a school with no gymnasium, the playcourt will give students, parents and teachers a place to gather and enjoy recreational activities.”

UH, DOH Working on Plan to Test Out-of-State Students for COVID-19

The plan to test out-of-state University of Hawaiʻi students returning for the fall semester for COVID-19 will be developed by UH and the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH).

“We look forward to working with the University of Hawaiʻi in developing a testing program that can ensure students returning here are free of COVID-19,” said DOH Director Bruce Anderson at a May 13 news conference with Gov. David Ige.

Protocols for testing, along contact tracing and quarantine as needed, are key components in UHʻs plans to resume in-person instruction at UHʻs 10 campuses in the fall semester, which the university announced on May 4.

UH President David Lassner confirmed that UH and DOH have already had initial conversations on testing and that the university is looking forward to more detailed discussions.

“There are a number of universities on the mainland that have worked through approaches, and we will be studying some of the best practices elsewhere,” said Lassner at the May 13 news conference. “We may not be first but we will certainly be one of the leaders in making it happen in partnership with the department of health.”

DOH and UH announced on May 13 that they are partnering to create a program to train personnel and community health workers to support DOH in conducting COVID-19 contact tracing.

More details on plans for the fall semester, including testing out-of-state students, are expected to be announced as plans are more fully developed.

Middle & High School Students Asked to Complete Distance Learning Survey

Students, your voice matters! Help the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) and your school better support you by sharing your experiences with distance learning. The results of the survey will help HIDOE and your school to better understand the experiences and needs of students and families as they navigate distance learning and a transformed economic landscape due to COVID-19.

Middle and high school students in grades 6-12 at Hawaii public, charter and private schools are invited to take this survey now until Friday, May 29, 2020. ​The survey will take only 15 minutes to complete. Survey questions can be viewed here.

Those who complete the survey will have the opportunity to enter a prize drawing for a new Chromebook.

Survey results are intended to help HIDOE and schools better understand the progression of distance learning and areas of need across the state. Your feedback is essential in planning for the new school year.

All surveys are completely confidential — no one at the school, complex area, or state office will be able to connect responses back to the individuals. 

Click here to take the survey.

St. Joseph Catholic School in Danger of Closing

St. Joseph School, the only Catholic School on Hawaii Island with over 151 years of tradition in the Hilo Community, may have to shutdown soon if it does not raise $500,000 in the next 10 days.

The school is located at 1000 Ululani Street near the Hilo Police Station.

According to this letter that was sent to parents today, Principal Michael K. Pa’ekukui said, “At this time it appears nearly $500,000.00 would need to be raised immediately to permit the school to keep our doors open for the 2020-2021 School Year.”

Full letter:

Donations can be made at the parish’s website here.

DOE Announces Summer School Plans & Supports for Students as State Transitions to Act with Care Phase

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) today announced its summer programming will be delivered through multiple platforms including in-person and distance learning as well as mobile support for students and families. Traditional summer school programs will be done primarily via distance learning with some face-to-face options available for high-need students to comply with COVID-19 guidance from government and health officials.

“The state’s transition from the ‘Safer at Home’ phase to this new ‘Act with Care’ phase comes at a time when our complex areas and schools are preparing for blended summer learning plans. The focus of our programs over the next two months is targeted toward our high-need and hard to reach students, with added opportunities for credit advancement for our secondary students,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “We are also assessing where we can expand on system and school design models that allow for continued distance learning opportunities into the fall including the permanent expansion of E-School programs and community-centric mobile learning labs.” 

Please see below for details about HIDOE’s summer programs.

Summer School

The Department will be rolling out a robust menu of expanded summer programming primarily via distance learning, as well as in-person where deemed necessary targeted toward high-need and hard to reach students. There are also opportunities for credit recovery, accelerating or advancing learning and credit attainment particularly for vulnerable learners within technology-rich learning environments.

HIDOE’s 2020 summer learning comprises five main program areas: statewide credit recovery, statewide credit acceleration, official summer school, E-School, and school-based opportunities. 

Of note, the credit-recovery program is being offered at no cost to families for students currently in grades 11 and 12. The Department will provide up to 6,000 students the opportunity to take up to six courses each. The Department also will offer virtual learning via 19 official summer school sites, and anticipates serving an estimated 4,000 students statewide.

Click here for more information. 

Mobile Learning Labs

Mobile learning labs that provide WiFi access will be launched in four pilot locations in early June to assist students who were not fully proficient at the end of the 2019-20 school year toward advancement to their next grade level. Delivered learning will focus on English language arts/reading, mathematics, social studies and science. Pilot locations will focus on rural communities including Ka‘ū on Hawaii Island, Hāna on Maui, Molokai and Kauai, where connectivity and access are a challenge.

The goal of this pilot is to transition from summer Mobile Learning Labs into permanent Micro Learning Hubs in the fall. This school design concept pushes student engagement into the communities and serves as hubs where authentic project-based learning, hands-on sustainability lessons, and applied arts can take place, while expanding WiFi access. 

YES Project 

HIDOE’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth office will pilot the YES Project on Oahu. The program will launch in mid-June with a bus that will travel to each district on Oahu once a week: Honolulu, Central, Leeward and Windward. This initiative will engage hard-to-reach students and families, provide basic necessities such as food and hygiene supplies, and deliver fun educational activities. It is meant to assess needs, gather data and serve as a bridge between schools and communities. 

Summer Feeding Program

The Grab-and-Go school meals program will be extended by four days beyond the end of the school year through June 3. HIDOE will transition to its summer food service program, the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) on June 4. Currently, there are 35 participating public school sites that will be offering breakfast and lunch. Families are advised to verify if their school locations will be serving meals on June 4 before visiting. To help supplement the Department’s efforts, sponsor sites at public agencies, churches and nonprofit organizations will also serve meals to children at other locations throughout the summer. The HIDOE’s SSO program runs through July 17. A list of sites is available here.

HIDOE Internships

To support graduating seniors who might typically be participating in extracurricular activities, community-based learning, or part-time employment, HIDOE is working to provide a variety of summer internship opportunities within its state offices. The internships will provide a paid learning experience for recent graduates that are tied into Career and Technical Education areas of focus. Additional information will become available in the coming weeks and internships are expected to start in June. 

Community Feedback

The Department launched a multi-phase distance learning survey for teachers, secondary students and families to learn more about the progression of distance learning and areas of need across the state. Surveys were distributed to all HIDOE teachers on May 18 and a survey link will be distributed to eligible secondary students today. The family survey will be available in early June. Survey results will inform the Department of needed training, resources and support as schools plan for reopening. 

The Department continues to work closely with county and state officials on what the upcoming 2020-21 school year will look like. Education will undoubtedly be delivered much differently moving forward, and we continue to adapt to best serve all students. The Department’s long-term solutions will support students and families with technology-rich learning environments that have become an expectation during this pandemic.

“I’m excited about the HIDOE initiatives that are coming to fruition because we are an organization of professionals that learns and designs based on student and community needs,” added Kishimoto. “One in particular is a plan to launch an IT support service called Ohana Help Desk for public school families who run into difficulties setting up their computers at home. We already have a system in place for employees and will be expanding this into the community with the support of partner organizations. This is just one example of how the Department is adapting and preparing to deliver on new design models for schools and our system.”

Outstanding UH Hilo Pharmacy Preceptors & Faculty Honored

The end-of-year award ceremony for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy was held online recently to honor the Preceptors of the Year and teaching award winners.

The Preceptor of the Year award is given to a professional pharmacist who does an exceptional job of mentoring pharmacy students. This year’s recipient is Bonnie Bennett, Pharm.D., BCPS, CDE, at Tripler Army Medical Center on O`ahu, where she has been precepting DKICP students since 2017. She previously worked at Hilo Medical Center and Makalapa Navy Clinic before moving to Tripler in 2016.

“Along with 13 years of experience as a practicing pharmacist, Dr. Bennett is also a certified diabetes care and education specialist,” said Dean Carolyn Ma. “One of her passions is motivating patients to improve their health by learning self-care skills to effectively manage their chronic diseases.

“She is very good at what she does and very caring with her patients. She encourages students to think outside-the-box and to work hard to learn as much as possible during their rotation,” she added.

The 2020 Faculty Preceptor of the Year is Allen Shih, Pharm.D., BCPS and assistant specialist in the department of Pharmacy Practice at DKICP. After receiving his doctor of pharmacy from the University of Utah, Shih did his residency at Multicare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, WA. When he joined DKICP in 2014 he brought with him more than seven years of practice experience in emergency medicine and critical care.

“Dr. Shih is very patient and does an amazing job of guiding students through their thought processes,” Ma said. “He creates a great learning environment for students and keeps them engaged by using real-life applications and his humor. His rotations are among the students’ favorites.”

Each class also elects its favorite teachers of the year. This year’s Student Choice Awards for Teaching went to:

Class of 2023: Dr. Abhijit Date, Pharmacy Science, and Dr. Supakit Wongwiwatthananukit, Pharmacy Practice

Class of 2022: Dr. Dianqing Sun, Pharmacy Science, and Dr. Jarred Prudencio, Pharmacy Practice

Class of 2021: Dr. Daniela Guendisch, Pharmacy Science, and Dr. Chad Kawakami, Pharmacy Practice

UH has Beef with Wagyu Reproductive Rates

Wagyu, a Japanese breed of cattle, produces high-quality meat prized by chefs the world over. Unfortunately for steak lovers, Wagyu are also known for having poor reproductive rates. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Extension Agent Kyle Caires is on a mission to change that.

Wagyu beef

Caires, who works in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, recently took the next step in his long-term quest to improve the reproductive technologies of cattle with his paper, “The outcome and economic viability of production using IVF and SOV techniques in the Wagyu breed of cattle.”

Along with collaborators from Brazil and Washington State, Caires is combining econometrics (the application of statistical methods to economic data) with scientific outcomes. The goal is to implement the advanced reproductive technologies that are necessary for cattle producers to make rapid genetic improvements in a cost-effective manner. 

“For Maui ranchers raising Wagyu, our research team developed a framework to nearly double pregnancy rates, at nearly 70% less cost than typical genetic improvement strategies—a true game changer for high-quality beef in Hawaiʻi,” said Caires.

Caires added, “There is a plethora of reproductive management programs out there to choose from, and it can get complicated and costly for ranchers, even overwhelming at times. Our team conducts applied research to help take the guesswork out of the process for beef producers. This will lead to improvements in cattle fertility and lower costs for genetic improvement. I’m excited to help our Hawaiʻi ranchers remain competitive in a dynamic, ever-changing global beef industry.”

Caires’s paper was published May 1 in Veterinary Sciences.

Free UH Community College Classes for Hawaii’s Class of 2020

FREE University of Hawai‘i Community College classes. Yes, you read that right.

The COVID-19 pandemic did much more than curtail the academic year and graduation celebration for Hawai‘i’s high school seniors. Many graduates’ plans for college and work were disrupted as well.

The UH Community Colleges are offering free, online Next Step: Career Exploration classes to Hawaiʻi’s class of 2020 public high school graduates. It is on a first come, first serve basis, and students can develop their career plans in these summer classes and identify their next steps toward their career goals, whether to enroll in college, seek employment or both.  Students will begin to earn college credits and start working towards their next graduation, and earning a college degree. Those who sign up will learn how to navigate college, explore career options and discover the education and training available at UH to help them reach their career and life goals. It is part of the Next Steps to Your Future initiative, a partnership between the UH Community Colleges and Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education 

“The high school graduating class of 2020 persevered in the face of incredible adversity in their personal lives and education. We know many of their plans were disrupted, so the University of Hawaiʻi is offering free summer Career Exploration classes to help them develop new plans and take the next steps toward their goals,” said UH President David Lassner.” Hawaiʻi needs every one of our young people to be a part of planning for our shared future and how they will each contribute to taking care of their families, their communities and these islands that are our home.” 

All public high school graduates are encouraged to sign up via the Next Step: Career Exploration website, which includes a list of frequently asked questions. They can also email or text nextstep@hawaii.edu. The first class begins on May 26. Students will be assigned to classes based on when they sign up and the information they provide, such as career interests.

The UH Community Colleges and Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education are co-sponsors of the Next Steps to Your Future initiative. Hawai‘i P-20’s Summer Advising Initiative helps students to make informed critical decisions towards achieving their post-high plans. Advisors will guide students through their summer transition towards college or career, including nudging messages through a texting campaign, building on a Hawai‘i P-20 pilot project previously implemented in a few high schools this year. Students can sign up for the free summer advising program by texting “nextsteps” to (808) 460-8360 or signing up at www.p20hawaii.org/nextsteps.

Next Steps is generously funded by UH partners at the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the Hawaii Resilience Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, Strada Education Network and the Stupski Foundation.

VIDEO: UH Hilo Recognizes Campus Award Recipients

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo recently honored and recognized its 2020 recipients of various campus awards in a commemorative video.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, UH Hilo decided to postpone its annual End of the Year Awards and Recognition Celebration event to a later date.

This year’s recipients are:

• Mirei Sugita, Center for Global Education and Exchange, Student Employee of the Year Award
• Mackenzie Slayton, Associate Director of Campus Recreation, Distinguished Service Award for Improving Student Life
• Levi Mangiboyat, Janitor, Auxiliary Services, Excellence in Building and Grounds Maintenance Award 
• Dr. Norman Arancon, Professor of Horticulture and Chair of Performing Arts, Excellence in Service Award
• Dr. Francis Dumanig, Assistant Professor of English, Pulama `Ike Award
• Dr. Larry Kimura, Associate Professor of Hawaiian Language and Hawaiian Studies, Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation
• Patsy Iwasaki, Instructor of English, Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
• Dr. John Burns, Assistant Professor of Marine Science, Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
• Dr. Kirsten Mollegaard, Professor and Chair of English, Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award 

Retired employees and faculty and staff recognized for various years of service as of December 31, 2019 are also included in the video. 

Hawaii Community College Announces 2020 Faculty, Staff & Community Awards

Hawai’i Community College is proud to honor community partners, alumni, faculty and staff who demonstrate exceptional effort and skill in serving our students, our campus and our wider community. The following awardees were announced during the annual All-College Meeting on Friday, May 8, 2020.

The Food Basket – Mahalo Award

The Food Basket is a community-based organization composed of network partners whose goal is to end hunger in Hawai’i County. They have been serving our community with warehouses in Hilo and Kona since 1989. The Food Basket mobilized to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak with expanded distribution systems for our most vulnerable populations. They also reached out and partnered with our growers and farmers who are now faced with oversupply when restaurants closed. Through The Food Basket, this connection has been vital to ensure that access to healthy food is available. In addition, they have been a valuable partner with Hawai‘i CC for the past several years for our on-campus food pantry. The Food Basket continued to support the Hawai’i CC food pantry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arthur Sampaga, Jr. – Alumni of the Year

Arthur Sampaga, Jr.

Arthur Sampaga, Jr. is an alumnus of the Hawai’i Community College Nursing Program, earning his Licensed Practical Nursing Certificate in 1988 and his Associate in Science in Nursing Degree in 1991. He also earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from UH Hilo and his Master’s of Science in Nursing from Grantham University. Currently serving as Hilo Medical Center’s East Hawai’i Region Chief Nursing Officer, he also retired from the Hawai’i Army National Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel with 30 years of service. During his two combat deployments, the decorated war veteran served as a Primary Trauma Care Provider, Mass Casualty Leader, Joint Forces Liaison Officer, and EMS Director. As a local healthcare leader, Sampaga has been on the forefront of Hawai’i Island’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeff Fujii – Outstanding Service

Jeff Fujii 

Jeff Fujii is an educational specialist and lecturer who serves both the Auto Body Repair and Painting Program and the Automotive Mechanics Technology Program. Employed at Hawai’i CC since 2014, Fujii is an ASE Certified Master Technician and a Hawai‘i CC alumnus. In addition to serving students in the two programs, he has been a positive, active member of the Hawai’i CC Kauhale who serves on key committees and has recently served as College Council Vice Chair and is now the College Council Chair. Fujii also participates in and leads outreach events in the community.

Ryan McCormack – Outstanding Lecturer

Ryan McCormack

Described as a charismatic storyteller with deep knowledge of Hawaiian myth, culture, language and hula, Ryan McCormack is a lecturer in the Hawaiian Studies program. He has taught a wide range of courses, and students and fellow faculty praise his knowledge, sincerity, patience and enthusiasm. In addition to teaching duties, he is also called upon to be a leader during kipaepae ceremonies as Hawai‘i CC welcomes guests and new employees to the college.

George Paleudis – Outstanding Staff

George Paleudis

George Paleudis is the Physical Plant Manager at Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui. Under his leadership, Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui has created a pleasing campus environment for potential students, their families and visitors from the community. Visitors have commented on the attractive appearance and general upkeep, and the upgrades and improved service have also helped boost campus morale. Paleudis is adept at analyzing and prioritizing projects, is a skilled communicator and cares about the safety and well-being of faculty, staff, and students.

Leanne Urasaki – Chancellor’s ‘A’ali’i Award

Leanne Urasaki 

Leanne Urasaki is the Instructional Technology Developer at Hawai‘i Community College, who helps faculty implement online classes. Her expertise was in high demand as the college moved all classes online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though she was on sabbatical at the time, Urasaki returned to work and proved to be a vital resource, providing institution-wide as well as personalized assistance for faculty. The spirit of this award is embodied in the attributes of the ‘A’ali’i bush. This remarkable bush can stand the worst of gales, twisting and bending but seldom breaking off or falling over. Urasaki’s steadfast service during this time was a great value to our students and our campus community.

Service Awards

  • Grant Kaʻauʻa – 10 years
  • Melany Ayudan – 20 years
  • Sherrie Ann Straslicka-Walker – 20 years
  • Kenneth Shimizu – 30 years

UH Hilo Celebrates its Spring 2020 Graduates with Virtual Commencement Video

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo congratulates and honors its Spring 2020 graduates with a special virtual Commencement video, which will be available for viewing at: https://hilo.hawaii.edu/commencement/spring2020/. UH Hilo decided to postpone its traditional in-person ceremony, originally scheduled for May 16, 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our students in particular have had to deal with so much this semester, and the Commencement Committee wanted to be sure our graduates were recognized, honored and celebrated for all of their accomplishments and hard work that got them to this day,” said Commencement Chair Lisa Spain. “Our virtual Commencement video is the result of many students, faculty and staff working hard to put this together to honor the Class of 2020.

“I wish the very best to all of our graduates, and thank everyone for such great teamwork,” she added.

Approximately 608 students petitioned for degrees and/or certificates from the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Natural and Health Sciences, Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, Business and Economics, Pharmacy, Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, and for various post-graduate credentials.

The virtual Commencement video includes over 730 submissions from students, faculty, and staff, and congratulatory messages from Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin and the deans of each college.

Plans for a traditional in-person Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 is underway and details will be shared at a later date.

DOE Closing Out School Year, Online Registration System Available for New Students

May 28 officially marks the end of the 2019-20 school year for Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) students. Schools have reached out directly to parents to arrange for the pickup of any supplies that were left behind when school facilities closed on March 19, as well as the return of any borrowed HIDOE property such as library books and borrowed equipment. The Department continues to work with schools on plans for summer programming and currently has 18 sites that will be offering summer school via distance learning, in addition to E-School. 

“As we close out the school year, I want to thank our students and families for their patience and resilience throughout this unprecedented journey.  I also want to thank our teachers, staff and leadership for their innovation, collaboration and commitment in supporting our school communities beyond the classroom, through grab-and-go meal service, telehealth work, door-knocking, device distribution and more,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said.

“Together, we have stepped up on behalf of our haumana to deliver on what the power and promise of public education means to this community, this state and this nation. By the end of the month, we will finalize our summer learning plans, ensuring equity and access to all students. We look forward to applying our new and innovative approaches to blended learning to summer learning, the next school year and beyond.”

Due to the abrupt closure of school facilities, refunds are being provided for services that were prepaid and not received for transportation and after-school programming. Parents and legal guardians will receive a prorated tuition refund for March for A+ programs (refunds were calculated based on the extended spring break and two school closure days in March). Refund amount information and the refund request form is available online, and should be submitted to the appropriate site coordinator or private provider to initiate the refund process. 

School bus coupon holders will receive refunds based on the unused portion of paid bus pass coupons purchased on or after March 1. Unused bus coupons must be returned to the school office from which they were purchased in order to be eligible for a refund. Refund checks will be mailed directly to the payee of record.

As we transition out 11,000 graduates, we look forward to welcoming our new students. An online registration system is available to enroll students for the upcoming school year. The system allows for the enrollment of new students who were not enrolled at a public or charter school during the 2019-20 school year. Visit bit.ly/HIDOE-enroll for more information and step-by-step instructions.

Student enrollment forms and required documents will still be accepted by mail. Parents and guardians are encouraged to contact their school for office hours and additional instructions. Student transfers and withdrawals as well as charter school enrollment will need to be addressed directly with the respective school.

UH System Announces Graduations

It is graduation time for more than 8,100 University of Hawaiʻi students as the spring 2020 semester comes to a close at UH’s 10 campuses. More than 8,600 undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees and certificates will be awarded this spring, in a year that will be remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic. The health crisis led to the sudden shift to online courses impacting more than 46,000 UH students and the cancellations of spring commencement ceremonies at the 10 campuses.

“It cannot be overstated that, even in the midst of this present crisis, every student who graduates this semester should be very proud of everything that they have accomplished,” said UH President David Lassner. “Nothing should eclipse the feelings of well-earned pride for our graduates and everyone who has worked hard to help them achieve this important goal.”

The University of Hawaiʻi asks the community to remember to congratulate your college graduates and celebrate this milestone in their lives. UH graduates, their families and friends are encouraged to use #UHOhana when they post their graduate images and videos on social media.

The spring 2020 UH graduates are invited to participate in the next scheduled commencement ceremony for their respective campus in December or May 2021. Some campuses are tentatively planning to hold special commencement ceremonies in December for spring semester graduates, if conditions allow. The campuses and many individual units have come up with different ways to mark the milestone for their students this month.

The information provided below for each campus will be updated after the semester officially comes to an end on Friday, May 15. Please check back the week of May 18 for updated information.

UH Mānoa

Undergraduate students: 1,715
Graduate students: 783
Law school graduates: 93
Medical school graduates: 64
Total degrees: 2,826

UH Mānoa spring 2020 graduates are invited to participate in a future in-person commencement in December 2020. Mahalo video messages from students and video messages from Provost Michael Bruno and UH alumni will be posted on the UH Mānoa commencement site where there is also a list of the various celebrations planned by the colleges and schools.

UH Hilo

Undergraduate students:453
Graduate students: 82
Pharmacy student: 73
Total degrees: 852

UH Hilo will host a Virtual Commencement Ceremony on May 20, 2020 and students have been asked to post photos and videos.

UH West Oʻahu

Students graduating: 372

UH West Oʻahu has posted a video honoring graduates on its commencement website and also posted a TikTok Video made by faculty and staff to celebrate the graduates.

Leeward Community College

Student graduating: 1,326
Degrees and certificates: 1,848

Leeward CC is planning to hold a live ceremony in December. Celebration packets are being mailed to graduates, with a printed program, tassel and Class of 2020 stickers. More information can be found on the campus commencement website.

Honolulu Community College

Total degrees and certificates: 900

Honolulu CC will post a Celebration of Graduates 2020 video on Friday, May 15 on its commencement website. The website is also hosting a message board where students, family and friends can post congratulatory messages, videos and photos.

Kapiʻolani Community College

Students graduating: 716
Total degrees and certificates: 836

Kapiʻolani CC is planning to hold a ceremony in December. The campus is also providing a number of ways to celebrate its graduates on its commencement website including a virtual Graduate Celebration, a gathering place where graduates, instructors, classmates and ʻohana can leave messages and virtual lei and hugs.

UH Maui College

Students graduating: 608
Degrees and certificates: 903

UH Maui is holding a virtual ceremony on June 3 with a ʻukulele processional, graduate photos and an official conferring of degrees and speeches. The graduation will be streamed live and broadcast on the school’s cable channel. More information can be found on the UH Maui College commencement website.

Hawaiʻi Community College

Students graduating: 584
Total degrees and certificates: 770

Hawaiʻi CC is holding a virtual celebration featuring messages and photos that will be posted on the Hawaiʻi CC commencement website on Friday, May 15.

Kauaʻi Community College

Students graduating: 178

Kauaʻi CC is planning to hold a live ceremony in December and has a commencement website where a video message from Chancellor Joseph Daisy is posted.

Windward Community College

Students graduating: 166
Total degrees and certificates: 175

Windward CC is holding a commencement caravan on campus on Friday, May 22 and will also host a graduate message board on its commencement website.

UH Hilo Pharmacy Student Awards Presented in Online Ceremony

Faculty and staff of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy gathered virtually with students recently in an online version of its annual end-of-school-year awards ceremony. Along with presentations of many awards and scholarships, a slideshow recapping highlights of the many student activities that took place earlier in the year was shown.

“While this has been a challenging spring semester for students, making the transition to all online classes and dealing with the stresses brought on by the pandemic, they have continued to work hard and perform well,” noted Dean Carolyn Ma. “Their achievements in the face of adversity speak well for their potential accomplishments and contributions to the pharmacy profession.”

The following student awards were announced:

• Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment Highest Test Score: Qixin (Sandy) Li
• Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award: Josephine McDonald
• Mylan Pharmaceuticals Excellence in Pharmacy Award: Stacey Nguyen
• American Pharmacists Association Senior Recognition Certificate: Gregg Tam
• NCPA Outstanding Student Member of the Year: Brittany Luna
• Kahele Student Leader of the Year: Clifford Agcaoili
• UH Hilo DKICP Alumni Association Scholarship: Kalen Niimi
• Aloha Shoyu Pharmacy Scholarship: Katrina Jardine and Trisha Nobriga
• CVS Health Foundation Pharmacy School Scholarship: Nina Cardoza, Tran Dinh and Daijiro Oshitari
• Elwin & Valerie Goo Endowed Excellence Scholarship: Yun Soo Park
• Grace Mizuko Miyawaki Pharmacy Scholarship: Travis Hirayama
• Haga Family Endowed Scholarship: Tyler Branco-Hedke
• Hawaii Independent Pharmacies, Inc. Endowed Excellence Scholarship: Roanne Deabler and Cleighton Lagmay
• Edwin and Georgiana Kam Endowed Excellence Scholarship: Ashley Fukuchi
• Molokai Drugs, Inc. Scholarship: Kendrick Justin Dalmacio and Matthew Neumann
• Mr. Nagakatsu Kumao Otsuka and Dr. Raymond Masashi Otsuka Memorial Scholarship: John Jacob and Sasha Nealand
• Albertsons Safeway Pharmacy Scholarship: Alysha Cosier
• Walgreens Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship: Nadra Nour
• Walgreens Multilingual Scholarship: Danh Ronald Nguyen
• John M. and Mimi F. Pezzuto Excellence Scholarship: Qixin (Sandy) Li, Duy Nguyen and Henry Quach

Recipients of the DKICP Merit Awards were chosen based on academic achievement and leadership success. This year’s winners include:

Class of 2021
Sean Domingo, Qixin (Sandy) Li, Brittany Luna, Jaymee-Rae Pang, Johnson Siu, Donald Waddell

Class of 2022
Alysha Cosier, Tran Dinh, Ashley Fukuchi, Leia Hasegawa, Brian Petrone, Donald Sachs, Melanie Sacro

Class of 2023
Selin Cross, Jasmine Curiel, Emily Tu Le, Kalen Niimi, Sung Mi Yoon

Student Organization of the Year was presented to Hawaiʻi Student Society of Health Systems Pharmacy and Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy.

Preschool Open Doors Program Deadline Extended to May 15th

Additional help is being offered for families in need of affordable preschool for the 2020-2021 school year.

In response to the COVID-19 emergency, DHS is extending the deadline to submit applications until May 15, 2020 for the Preschool Open Doors program.

DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot said, “During these challenging times, we will continue to serve our State with aloha. Together, we honor our commitment to supporting our collective community; individuals and families from keiki to kupuna.”

Both the application period and funding are limited, so DHS is encouraging families to apply before that May 15 deadline. To qualify for the program, children must be eligible to enter kindergarten in the 2021-2022 DOE school year (born between August 1, 2015 and July 31, 2016).

If awarded a subsidy, families may use any one of the 426 state-licensed preschools. DHS also gives priority to underserved or at-risk children.

LETTER: All Students Need Digital Connectivity

Superintendent Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto writes about providing quality education and student education designed around digital inclusion. “Real change stemming from crisis takes root best when executed immediately. Let’s commit now to transition back to an improved normal.” This piece ran in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on May 10, 2020.

Supt. Christina M. Kishimoto

It’s easy to forget the lessons learned during a crisis once the threat subsides and the desire to return to normal prevails.

Will we emerge from COVID-19 ready, willing and able to innovate in new ways for our students and communities?

I remember the oil crisis of the 1970s, when lines for gas stretched for blocks and drivers negotiated with each other for a cup of fuel to get their families home. The public cried out, “Never again!” and demanded smaller, more gas-efficient cars.

But look around today. Even on our small Hawaiian islands large, gas-guzzling vehicles with just a passenger or two drive by every minute.

The reality is our memories are short and our priorities are outweighed by routine and convenience. Real change stemming from crisis takes root best when executed immediately. Let’s commit now to transition back to an improved normal.

One area demanding change is technology and connectivity.

Early on in this pandemic it became clear that the students and families most impacted are the same students and families who were struggling before this began. The ugly underbelly of inequity is more prominently displayed today. When everything settles, those with means will get back to normal and largely forget, and those with limited means before COVID-19 will be the ones who are worse off, falling further behind, further at risk.

This pandemic created conditions for us as an organization to embrace innovation and empowerment faster. The complexity of teaching and leading in this unprecedented time fostered internal collaborations that pushed our collective thinking. I am proud that we entered this pandemic with one instructional design and emerged with a broadened design for online and blended learning.

Despite the challenges that come with social distancing and tele-teaching, our teachers have been hyper-focused on what’s most important: quality instruction and student engagement. Our principals are actively designing for the next generation of school design grounded in digital inclusion. Our principals, teachers, staff, students and families are delivering. But all students must have a device and access at home for this design to be equitable.

Digital access must be a given for a child in today’s public school system. Our schools provide great access at school, which allowed us to distribute over 12,000 loaners in recent weeks. But that’s only half the equation.

Students who have connectivity at home are taking advantage of the many opportunities we’ve transitioned to, including a virtual science and technology fair, project-based learning showcases and regular check-ins via video conference. Students who live in neighborhoods with poor or no connectivity, or whose families cannot afford it, unfortunately are missing out and will continue to be at a learning disadvantage.

This is the time to step up and deliver on a digital engagement approach that will advance our equity agenda. Not addressing this challenge now drives a deeper wedge between the haves and have-nots in our state. The good news is this is fixable. Federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides a pre-approved investment opportunity to address part of this challenge and set Hawaii’s public education system apart.

We’ve committed to an aggressive, student-centered promise plan focused on innovation to guide us through the next decade. Innovation today relies heavily on technology. I’m seeking support to come out of this health and economic crisis with real changes to digital access. Service providers, elected leaders and businesses must work with us to solve this issue on behalf of students.

We must pledge that never again will we be in this position of inequitable access to technology for public education students.

UH Hilo Students, Faculty Publish Work on Coral Health & Disease

Students and faculty in the `Ike Wai Research Experience in Data Science Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo had their work on coral health and disease published in the May 6 edition of Frontiers Marine Science. The publication is the result of research done in Summer 2019.

Students survey coral health and collect imagery for 3D reconstruction on coral reefs.

“A Comparison of the Diagnostic Accuracy of in-situ and Digital Image-Based Assessments of Coral Health and Disease” addresses a pressing issue in the field of marine science, which is the capability of digital images to be used for detecting disease in marine environments. The students conducted underwater conventional coral health surveys and subsequently collected imagery for high-resolution 3D models of the same study plots. This unique approach allowed them to compare coral health assessments from visual surveys (human eyes on the reef) and digital analysis (computer-based).

The findings showed that the human visual assessment is more sensitive for detecting disease than the digital approach. The digital approach was comparable, however, and thus can be a useful tool when human divers cannot safely access reef habitats for visual surveys. As agencies around the globe are adopting digital imaging methods for monitoring reefs, this paper provides useful clarity of the pros and cons of using new technologies versus conventional techniques.

The students involved in the publication include Sofia Ferreira (Marine Science), Drew Gotshalk (Computer Science), Chad Kinoshita (Computer Science), Micah Marshall (Mathematics), Nicholas Del Moral (Computer Science), Shane Murphy (Marine Science), Kailey Pascoe (Tropical Conversation Biology and Environmental Science), Alexandra Runyan (Marine Science), Alexander Spengler (Marine Science), Brittany Wells (Marine Science), and Danielle Wilde (Marine Science). Faculty members are Drs. John Burns (Marine Science), Grady Weyenberg (Mathematics), and Travis Mandel (Computer Science).

“This project was a close collaboration between students and faculty in Marine Science, Computer Science, and Mathematics,” said Dr. Grady Weyenberg, assistant professor of mathematics and co-author of the publication. “Everybody got to learn a bit about how marine scientists conduct coral surveys, the CS problems involved in building 3D models from photographs, and the math modeling and computation that goes into more advanced Bayesian statistical models.

“The research is quite novel for Marine Science as there have been very few studies comparing the accuracy of the two methods of diagnosing coral reef health. From a statistical point of view, the problem is interesting because when the two methods disagree, we have no ‘gold-standard’ available to tell us which method is correct and which is wrong, so we must build that uncertainty into our models when comparing the methods,” he explained.

“This was a really great example of advancing science in an interdisciplinary manner,” added Dr. John Burns, assistant professor of marine science and co-author of the publication. “The students did an amazing job on all aspects of the project. They all brought varying levels of expertise that enabled us to quickly collect a large dataset from Hawaiian reefs and analyze it using various technological tools.

“By the end of six weeks they had completed all analyses and prepared the first draft of the manuscript as well as put together some exceptional presentations. To me, this project and resulting paper really capture one of the main goals of the UH Hilo Data Science program, which is bringing together students from multiple disciplines to conduct exciting applied research,” he noted.

The UH Hilo `Ike Wai Research Experience in Data Science Program is funded through UH Hilo’s participation in the $20 million `Ike Wai project awarded to the state in 2016 by the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

The full paper is available at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2020.00304/full.