Board Approves HIDOE’s Request to Modify Graduation & Requirements

The Board of Education (BOE) unanimously voted today to approve the Hawaii State Department of Education’s (HIDOE) request to modify high school graduation and commencement requirements under Board Policy 102-15 for the graduating class of 2020.

This approval means the Department will be able to move forward with finalizing a graduation plan that principals, complex area and state leadership have been developing over the past two weeks. The plan recommends utilizing grades from the third quarter, which ended March 13, to determine the final grade for student courses.

For students who do not meet proficiency, an extension or other options will be available, and further considerations are being made for students within block or multi-track schedules. The plan also includes additional considerations for academic honors including Advanced Placement (AP) assessments, International Baccalaureate (IB) assessments and dual credit as well as workforce opportunities like Career and Technical Education and military designations. 

The full plan will be released early next week pending a final review and approval by Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto.

“Adjusting to this global crisis has required school districts nationwide to rethink how education is delivered. We understand that students, families and our teachers want answers and we’re hoping that today’s decision will provide some closure as the Department will now be able to move forward with sharing and implementing plans for the remainder of the school year,” BOE Chairwoman Catherine Payne said. 

There are currently 11,183 seniors, with approximately 90% eligible to graduate on time based on third quarter grades, which are still being processed. The Department is starting to identify and categorize students into four bands to provide necessary supports. 

  • Band 1: Students who are on track and will receive a diploma based on their third quarter grades. Enrichment and learning opportunities will continue to ensure they are ready for post-secondary opportunities. 
  • Band 2: Students who are not meeting proficiency based on their third quarter grades. They are targeted for intervention and remediation to help them graduate on time. These individualized plans will be developed at the school level. 
  • Band 3: Students who are not meeting proficiency based on third quarter grades and are unable to achieve proficiency during the fourth quarter time period. Supports being proposed include providing summer school or e-School options.
  • Band 4: Students who were failing by the end of the first semester and are unable to achieve proficiency during the fourth quarter and with summer options. Administrators, counselors and teachers will work directly with these students and their families to develop a personalized plan. 

“Our priority from the start of this crisis has been our students, staff and their families. Developing this plan was a heavy lift by school and complex leaders and was done so with guidance from our federal, state and county partners,” added Kishimoto. “This waiver does not relax our standards. It provides the flexibility to ensure our eligible seniors graduate on time and smoothly transition to their chosen path after high school.”

The Department will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and make a decision by April 15 regarding commencement ceremonies. School, complex area and state teams have started discussing alternative means of celebration in the event traditional ceremonies cannot be held. 

The BOE also unanimously voted to approve the Department’s waiver request to cancel federally required statewide standardized assessments for the 2019-2020 school year. This includes Smarter Balanced Assessments for English language arts/literacy and mathematics, Hawaii State Science Assessments and Biology 1 end of course exams; Hawaii State Alternate Assessments; and the Kaiapuni Assessment Educational Outcomes (KĀʻEO). The public can submit comments until April 10 regarding this waiver through an online survey here. For more information as well as the anticipated impact, click here

School facilities have been closed to students since March 19, with traditional, in-school instruction temporarily discontinued until at least April 30. All HIDOE employees continue to work remotely with the exception of those who are considered essential and must perform their duties at a campus or office.

Schools have launched distance learning opportunities and/or learning packets were distributed via email, school websites and some in-person. Work packets will not be graded, but many teachers are identifying unique ways to provide feedback to students. The Department has also stood up a resource for parents available atbit.ly/HIDOEVirtualLearningParentResource. HIDOE COVID-19 updates will continue to be posted on the Department’s website at hawaiipublicschools.org.

HIDOE Receives Approval to Cancel Federally Mandated Testing

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced an opportunity for states to apply for flexibility around federal assessment and accountability requirements due to COVID-19 impacts. Within hours of filing with the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) received notification that its expedited waiver request was approved.  

HIDOE’s expedited waiver allows for the cancellation of federally required assessments for the remainder of school year 2019-20. This includes Smarter Balanced Assessments in English Language Arts/Literacy and mathematics; Hawaii State Science Assessments and Biology 1 end of course exams; Hawaii State Alternate Assessments; and the Kaiapuni Assessment of Educational Outcomes (KĀʻEO).  

“At this time, the top priority of our haumana and staff should be staying healthy and adapting to their new learning environments,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “In these unprecedented times with rapidly changing conditions, the Department’s efforts are focused on helping students continue to learn and grow through alternative instructional delivery methods.” 

The Hawaii Board of Education will be discussing the federal waiver at its April telemeeting. More details and an opportunity for public comment will be available here.

HIDOE Extends School Closures

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) announced today it will keep all public schools closed for a total of three weeks to help slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition, HIDOE offices except for essential functions will be closed for the next 15 days. School and state offices will continue to provide public services remotely.

“Closing our schools will help safeguard the health of our children, teachers, staff and surrounding communities as we fight against the spread of COVID-19,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “We appreciate the support and commitment of our public school ‘ohana as we collectively navigate these uncharted waters.”

Board of Education Chairwoman Catherine Payne added, “Our entire state must band together to combat community spread of the virus and school closures are an important part of the response. We will work closely with the Department and our federal partners to ensure that education requirements continue to be met and students have access to such essential services as meals.”

HIDOE schools and offices

All public and charter schools will remain closed to students through April 6, following the extended spring break period. Barring any future changes, return dates will be staggered as follows:

  • April 3: Custodians, principals and administrators return to work.
  • April 4-5 (weekend): Custodians continue deep cleaning of campuses.
  • April 6: Teachers return to work to prepare classrooms.
  • April 7: Students return to school.

Spring break was originally scheduled to run from March 16-20 for most HIDOE schools. The Department announced last week that the break would be extended by one week through March 27. The state’s three multi-track schools — Kapolei Middle, Mililani Middle and Holomua Elementary — were placed on break for the same dates. The latest closure runs through April 6 for students.

Employees will be working remotely and those who need to perform duties at a campus or office during this period will be limited to those tasks before returning to their telework arrangement.

Student meal service

During the extended closure, HIDOE will continue to provide student meals, including providing grab-and-go breakfast and lunch at select schools to children 18 years and under at the following days and times:

  • Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. for breakfast.
  • Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. for lunch.
  • Note: Meals will not be served on Thursday, March 26 in observance of Prince Kuhio Day. Some schools may start serving meals later in the week.

A list of the 39 pick-up sites is available here. The locations were selected based on criteria including a high number of students eligible for the Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program and geography. HIDOE is monitoring the situation and may add additional sites if necessary.

Graduation and other school events

Following earlier guidance, the Department canceled or postponed events involving large groups. Graduation ceremonies, which are normally held in mid-to-late May, have not yet been modified and any necessary scheduling changes will be announced at a future date.

Notification of COVID-19 cases

In the event there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 involving an individual in a HIDOE school community, the Department will not be issuing a notification. This outreach will be done by the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) in order to avoid any potential Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations. We encourage those who are concerned to consult with their health care provider and continue to monitor the DOH website for updates at www.hawaiicovid19.com.

Additional information and HIDOE COVID-19 updates will continue to be posted on the Department’s website at hawaiipublicschools.org.

Governor David Ige’s statement on the Hawaiʻi Department of Education’s efforts to further help suppress the spread of COVID-19 

“I commend and fully support the Hawaiʻi Department of Education (DOE) for furthering the state’s efforts to implement social distancing. These are challenging decisions being made every day across the state but are essential to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Educating Hawaiʻi’s students remain our top priority. And we know that in addition to providing a positive learning environment, schools also provide a safe place for our keiki.

“As decisions for extension and closures are being announced, I’m very pleased that the DOE has a plan in place to continue providing meals to our students, especially to those who need it most. The comprehensive plan will help communities from Kaʻū to Kapaʻa. I encourage parents to check the DOE website for details on the meals programs.

“The situation is constantly changing, and the DOE will be adjusting its plans to meet the changing conditions and address issues, such as opportunities for distance learning, special needs students and graduation.

“I want to thank the Board, DOE, parents, students and the community for their understanding as we work though this difficult time. We will get through this crisis if we continue to work together as a community.”

HIDOE Cancels Mainland & International Trips Due to COVID-19

The Hawaii Department of Education is canceling all school and department related travel to the U.S. Mainland and international destinations until the end of the school year due to the current COVID-19 situation.

In a release from Superintendent Christina Kishimoto she states:

Dear Hawai’i DOE staff, faculty, parents and guardians,

We recognize that Hawai’i State Department of Education (HIDOE) sponsored student travel and professional development are important parts of our overall academic design. In light of the evolving COVID-19 situation, we need to take additional precautionary steps to ensure the health and well-being of our school communities. As such, HIDOE is canceling all school and Department-related travel to the U.S. mainland and international destinations until the end of the 2019-2020 school year, effective March 12.

There are school trips scheduled to depart Hawai’i on Wednesday, March 11. Although these trips will not be bound by the upcoming department-wide cancellations, parents have the right to modify their travel plans accordingly. If you decide to cancel or modify your school-related travel plans, please notify your child’s school immediately. Making this last minute decision is a personal one, so please consider that travel costs already incurred may not be reimbursable.

We understand the financial hardship this will potentially cause and we encourage families, schools and complex areas to discuss the possibility of rescheduling or reimbursement with their travel partners (i.e. travel agents, airlines and accommodations) to the extent possible.

We did not make this decision lightly knowing the impact it will have on our school communities; however, the safety of our students and staff is our highest priority.

Please continue to monitor HIDOE COVID-19 updates on the Department’s website at www.hawaiipublicschools.org.

Sincerely,

Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto Superintendent