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Hawaii teachers union files complaint over conditions amid pandemic

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s teachers union has filed two grievances against the statewide public school system over pandemic working conditions.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association says educators are being forced to work in unsafe conditions, Hawaii News Now reported.

The union said in grievances filed last week against the state Department of Education that teachers have to work extra hours and are being forced to teach remotely while on sick leave.

The department has regular meetings with the union on pandemic-related issues and officials remain focused on providing safe in-person learning, Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi said.

Hilo High School teacher Aaron Kubo said that during the first week of classes, there were 17 students out of the classroom who either contracted COVID-19 or had close contact with someone who got sick.

Social distancing isn’t realistic at his 90-year-old campus, he said.

HSTA President Osa Tui Jr. said teachers and school administrators have to do contact tracing themselves.

“A lot of times the administrators are just looking at a seating chart from a teacher and making a decision based on what they see on the seating chart as to who to quarantine,” Tui said.

Some students with pending COVID-19 test results and siblings of those who are sick are still going to school, he said.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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