DOE Distance-Learning Survey Insights & Findings

​At the end of school year 2019-20, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) conducted a series of online surveys for teachers, secondary students and families, as well as a principal data collection to gain a deeper understanding of distance-learning experiences. The feedback gathered from these surveys aimed to both help gauge the Department’s readiness for distance learning and inform future planning.

The HIDOE surveys focused on distance-learning experiences during the closure of school buildings following spring break in the following areas: student and teacher access to devices and internet connectivity, student well-being, student engagement and experience in learning, teacher and administrator readiness for distance-learning, teacher professional needs, and communication.

Survey participation was encouraged through email as well as through flyers that were disseminated at grab-and-go meal sites for families who may not have received the information online. HIDOE Community Homeless Concerns Liaisons were available to assist families in unstable housing and any inquiries regarding non-electronic submissions were directed to the Department for alternative arrangements. All surveys were conducted by a third-party partner, Panorama Education, and were completely confidential and anonymous.

The Department received 8,936 responses from secondary students, 8,324 responses from teachers, amounting to 61.3% of all teachers, 32,572 responses from families and 257 responses from principals or 100% of principals. 

The following insights have been synthesized from the teacher, student, family and principal feedback:


  • Overall, students have fair access to devices to use for distance learning, either with a school issued device, or their own home computers.
  • Most teachers had school issued devices for distance learning however, there are still about 5% of teachers who need a school issued device for distance learning.
  • There is a significant range of home computers for distance learning use. Family responses in complex areas range from 58% to 90%, and student responses in complex areas range from 55% to 93%. There is also a noticeable range from 44% to 67% of families who report enough devices for each family member to use at the same time. 

HIDOE will continue to work towards ensuring that all teachers are equipped with devices needed to provide robust instruction for distance learning, and will continue efforts to decrease the technology equity gap by providing access to devices for all students. HIDOE has ordered 10,000 computers for summer learning and another 13,000 for the opening of the school year. The Department has also made a request of $57.8 million to the Legislature to accelerate digital transformation. HIDOE schools continue to loan and distribute devices to students. In addition, HIDOE is developing a process to identify students who are in need of devices and track if they were provided a loaned device. 

Internet Connectivity

  • Overall, a fair number of students have access to reliable internet.
  • Access to reliable internet connectivity varies by complex areas. There is a range in student responses range in complex areas from 69% to 81%, and family survey responses vary from 66% to 82%.
  • Overall, most teachers have access to reliable internet connectivity. About 5% of teachers are still in need of reliable internet access. 

During the closing of school buildings, the representatives from HIDOE met weekly with the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) Broadband Hui to identify solutions to advance access to technology and high bandwidth in Hawaii. In addition, 779 HIDOE hotspots were issued to students. For summer learning, the Mobile Hubs on neighbor island sites, and the YES Mobile Hub on Oahu were established to “bring” connectivity to students to access digital learning. While the State of Hawaii continues to grapple with connectivity challenges, the HIDOE will continue to advocate for solutions from the DBEDT Broadband Hui.

Student Participation

  • Student responses show consistent participation in distance learning through online learning or paper packets. The students who responded may likely be the ones who have been participating in distance learning more consistently than other peers. 
  • A little over a half of the families responded that their child spent less than half the day on learning activities.
  • Principals reported that the majority of teachers interacted with students 2 or 3 days a week. There was variation amongst teacher instruction in the number of days per week instruction was provided through technology.
  • Teacher data show a difficulty in consistently engaging the majority of their students during the closure of school buildings. 

HIDOE is preparing for the reopening of schools through adopted school models to ensure 180 days of instruction. Attendance will be taken and students will receive grades each quarter. The first two weeks of schools are planned as half days for students that will also allow for training time for staff to test and adjust to schools’ protocols, conduct employee training, and prepare for classroom and virtual instruction.

Distance Learning Engagement and Instruction

  • According to the majority of students and families, teachers were quite or extremely supportive of the student’s learning during the closure of school buildings.
  • Majority of families report that their child learned somewhat or much less during the closing of school buildings.
  • Families are telling us their biggest barrier to distance learning is their job compared with teachers and students who reported lack of quiet space. Distance learning for families appeared to be more burdensome than it was for students and teachers.
  • Overall most teachers used technology to stay connected with students across the state. Principals reporting a high percentage of teachers using technology to stay connected with students ranged in complex areas from 78% to 100%, with nine complex areas reporting 100% of their teachers used technology to stay connected with students.

When planning school models for the reopening of school, priority will be given to K-2 students and vulnerable students for daily in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible. During the first two weeks of the opening of schools, time is built in for teacher professional development to prepare for virtual and classroom instruction. State offices, complex areas and schools will continue to seek and offer teachers with professional development opportunities, especially around engaging students online.  

Student Well Being

  • Most students report having a significant adult at school they can count on when needed.
  • About one in every five students report that they are quite or extremely concerned about their social emotional well being.
  • About one in every three families report that they are quite or extremely concerned about their child’s social emotional well being.

Schools will continue to make students’ social and emotional learning a priority. Since May 2020, the Department has been partnering with the Hawai‘i Keiki Healthy and Ready to Learn Program to provide a health resource hotline and telehealth services for students and families. Also, in partnership with the Education for Homeless Children & Youth office, the Department launched the pilot YES Project, a collaborative outreach initiative for summer 2020 to connect with students and families with resources, including meals, hygiene supplies, food, clothing, and activities for academic and social support. 

Teacher and Principal Readiness for Distance Online Instruction 

  • About 1 in 3 teachers report that they feel quite or extremely confident about online working and teaching. Nearly another 1 in 3 teachers report that they are slightly or not confident at all.
  • Most principals are comfortable or very comfortable facilitating a webex meeting, about 1 in 4 teachers are slightly or not comfortable at all.

During the closing of school, the Leadership Institute created peer teacher to teacher online professional development opportunities for strategies and networking. These virtual sessions were attended by hundreds of HIDOE teachers. Training is a priority for teachers and staff, with the first two weeks of schools being half day sessions, professional development for teachers is one of the built in components. As the year progresses, complex areas and state offices will provide more opportunities for professional development, especially in the area of engaging students online and addressing special populations.  

Training and Professional Development 

  • Families are telling us they would like support with access to resources and learning activities.
  • Teachers are telling us they would like professional development the most on how to engage students online and addressing special populations.

The state, complex areas and schools will consider ways to support parents with their request to provide access to resources and learning activities. More than a third of the families would like technology support, the Ohana Help Desk is in development to provide technology support for students and families for the upcoming school year. 


  • Students and families report  the easiest way to stay in touch with them is through email, followed by text message.
  • Families of students who receive special education or related services report the majority of special education teachers and about half of the service providers “mostly or always” responded to their child’s unique needs.
  • Principals report the most effective way for them to communicate with parents is through mass messaging (Synervoice), followed by emails, phone and text.

HIDOE has transitioned last school year for all employees from Lotus Notes to the enterprise Google email system, along with Webex accounts for every employee. This allows for virtual meetings that have enabled HIDOE to shift quickly to online meetings and instruction. Many schools have already issued school-level student email accounts, and HIDOE is moving towards “all” students having accessible accounts in a state-level enterprise Google tenant for instructional and communication purposes. 

A public dashboard provided by Panorama Education, that encompasses the teacher, secondary student and family survey result can be accessed at The results of the principal data collection is available here: A full comprehensive report of the distance-survey results can be found at

Families who completed the survey were entered to win a new iPad or chromebook provided by the Hawaii Community Foundation. One student each from Kilauea Elementary, Mililani Uka Elementary, Konawaena Middle, Campbell High and Waialae Elementary will be recipients of a new device when they return to school in the fall. 

The Department is currently seeking participation from secondary students (middle and high schools grades 6-12) and parents and guardians of any student that engaged in a HIDOE summer learning program for its summer learning survey, which remains open until July 24. Feedback from this survey will help HIDOE to learn more about the experiences and needs across summer learning programs to better assess the allocation of resources and to inform future plans for distance learning options. 

Subgrants Awarded to HIDOE Complex Areas to Advance Literacy Efforts Statewide

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) has awarded subgrants under its $49.8 million federal Comprehensive Literacy State Development (CLSD) Grant to supplement literacy efforts with innovative strategies to accelerate student achievement. The Department was awarded the five-year grant in October 2019 to support language and literacy development growth in Hawaii public schools.

Through a highly competitive process HIDOE awarded CLSD subgrants to six complex areas, which will impact 82 schools. Complex area subgrantees will receive up to $1.5 million per year over the next four years. Fifty percent of the total award for each subgrantee must target grades K-5 and the other 50% must target grades 6-12. While the subgrants are organized at the complex area level, schools are charged with designing literacy plans specific to their own school and community.

“This grant will help the Department develop a system to support educators as they expand their capacity to fully implement evidence-based literacy using proven instructional strategies to advance student growth,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “We will be working alongside Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education to ensure that we reach children from birth through 12th grade, with an emphasis on learners vulnerable to academic challenges.”

The CLSD Grant has five objectives: enhance literacy outcomes for the most disadvantaged students from birth to grade 12; implement evidence-based literacy practices; ensure subgrantees develop evidence-based literacy plans; enhance data-driven decision-making; and engage families in supporting their childʻs literacy development.

The subgrant awardees are:

Campbell-Kapolei Complex Area 

The Campbell-Kapolei complex area will design and implement a multi-faceted approach to literacy by providing a professional learning series for teachers and developing data tools and processes to inform instruction. In addition, Campbell-Kapolei will create a family resource hub to provide learning activities and literacy resources for families in the community.

Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani Complex Area 

To meet the literacy needs of all students, the Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani Complex Area will incorporate the principles of Universal Design for Learning, which will guide students as experts in their own learning. Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani will also use the grant to provide teacher training focused on strengthening reading and writing instruction, particularly in grades K-2, for all 21 schools participating in the project.

Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena Complex Area

West Hawaii schools will implement a literacy design that includes integrating literacy instruction in all classrooms, developing a Career Academy Model that uses career pathways to engage students, and designing family literacy plans. Teachers will be provided with training on explicit instructional strategies, which help students to develop specific skills using a highly structured sequence of steps, and will be provided with feedback on their lessons in a timely manner.

Kau-Keaau-Pahoa Complex Area

The Kau-Keaau-Pahoa Complex Area will implement a system of academic and cultural supports that meet the needs of all students through high-engagement classroom practices. Kau-Keaau-Pahoa will also strengthen Nā Hopena A’o (HĀ) in each learning environment to develop strong family relationships and cultural supports.

Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua Complex Area                                                                   

The Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua Complex Area will implement literacy plans designed by each of the 13 participating schools to address each school’s unique areas of growth. Each literacy plan will include essential components of reading instruction and will provide for family and cultural literacy plans.

Pearl City-Waipahu Complex Area 

The Pearl City-Waipahu Complex Area will develop a blended (face-to-face and online) learning environment for all students and refine a K-12 Academy Model that uses career pathways to engage students. All teachers in the 17 participating schools will be provided with targeted professional development that will be facilitated through new technology, software, and literary resources.

Six subgrantees will be hiring an experienced literacy coordinator. The first year will involve revising complex and school-level literacy and evaluation plans, training, refining data sources, and developing reporting tools to communicate the link between CLSD Grant efforts and student achievement.

Hawaii Public Schools Will Follow Single Academic Calendar for Start of 2020-21 School Year

​In an effort to support working families in our community and provide some stability, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) announced its three multi-track schools on Oahu will temporarily convert to a single-track schedule in the fall.

The first day of instruction for multi-track schools – Mililani Middle, Kapolei Middle and Holomua Elementary in Ewa Beach – will be Aug. 4, the same as all other HIDOE public schools.

The change will be in place for at least the first semester of the 2020-21 school year. This means the first day of instruction and the dates for fall break will be the same at these schools as all other HIDOE public schools. Student instruction is scheduled to begin Aug. 4 for all schools. (See revised 2020-21 multi-track calendar here, and 2020-21 official school calendar here.) 

Multi-track schools – Mililani Middle, Kapolei Middle and Holomua Elementary in Ewa Beach – traditionally operate with students staggered on different tracks throughout the year to accommodate growing enrollment.

“The shift to a single-track system will provide some relief for families having to plan ahead for childcare as the state starts to reopen,” Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami said. “We have heard from numerous families, especially those who have children attending a multi-track and single-track school, about the inconvenience of coordinating childcare due to the multi-track schedule.”

Teachers and staff at Mililani Middle, Kapolei Middle and Holomua Elementary have been informed of the changes and revised schedules. The Department is in ongoing discussions with labor unions representing multi-track staff to address questions and concerns.

The Department is developing plans to reopen schools for the upcoming school year. HIDOE will be taking lessons learned over the summer to inform what instructional delivery models will look like for the fall. It will likely include a blended approach, providing in-classroom learning that follows health and safety guidelines as well as distance learning opportunities for families that can and want to take advantage of that program. Feedback from teachers, principals, students and parents gathered from surveys underway will help the Department design delivery models that are appropriate, realistic and best meet the needs of each school community.

The Department has created a resource page on its homepage, where updates about reopening plans will be shared as key decisions are made.

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.”

Grab-and-Go School Meals Program to be Extended by 4 Days During Transition to Summer Feeding Program

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) will extend the Grab-and-Go school meals program by four days beyond the 2019-20 school year through June 3. The program was launched on March 23 to provide breakfast and lunch meals free of charge to children 18 years and younger during the COVID-19-related school closures.

On June 4, HIDOE will transition to its summer food service program, the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) and many Grab-and-Go sites will be closing. PC: Department of Education

HIDOE will transition to its summer food service program, the Seamless Summer Option (SSO), on June 4 to provide children meals over summer break. The school-based distribution sites for breakfast and lunch will be reduced to the 35 public schools listed below. Sponsor sites at public agencies, churches and nonprofit organizations will begin serving meals to children at additional locations in communities to support keiki. The SSO program will run through July 17.

“The Grab-and-Go program has been an incredible support for our children and their families during this time of economic uncertainty and we thank our dedicated cafeteria workers, staff and administrators who have worked tirelessly to keep the daily meal distributions running smoothly,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “As we transition to the summer break, many of our 10-month employees will not be available to staff current sites, but partner organizations will be stepping forward to keep summer meals available at other sites in our communities.”

Parents are urged to check the new SSO school distribution list below, as the Grab-and-Go sites they currently visit may be closed on Jun. 4. Meal distribution at SSO sites will continue to provide grab-and-go servings in walk-up and drive-thru lines. Dine-in options will not be available. All children ages 18 and younger can receive one school breakfast and one lunch daily. 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, please send an email to ​​ with as much detail as possible. 

Parents may pick up student meals without their child(ren) present but 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.

Most sites will serve breakfast and lunch while others will offer lunch only (indicated in list below). Breakfast will be served from 7:30 to 8 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to noon.

School meal distribution sites continuing on June 4 through July 17, 2020:

The following schools previously serving Grab-and-Go meals will cease meal distribution after June 3.

School meal distribution sites closing after Thursday, June 3, 2020:

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 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.