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Ige stands behind decision to begin in-person learning

Gov. David Ige on Monday stood firm in the decision of state leaders to return students to in-person learning amid the ongoing surge of COVID-19.

“We do believe that COVID has really impacted our young people the most, and we are getting more and more reports about the mental health effects of not being in school, of not having the social interaction that is so much a part of social development and school development,” Ige said during a livestream Monday.

The state is doing better to identify, isolate and quickly test students and staff who are sick, he said.

“It’s more than just the learning and the social development that’s so important, especially to our young children, but it’s about getting people back to work, because they don’t have to pay for child care any more, and really getting back to normal.”

In an update Friday, the state Department of Education said there were 105 confirmed cases reported in schools between July 21 and Aug. 6. An uptick in school cases was expected when the new school year began Aug. 3 and as cases rise statewide.

There has been no evidence of COVID-19 transmission on DOE campuses in the cases reported Friday, the department said.

Ige said Monday he was aware of the number of cases reported by the DOE, but in most instances, the cases were individuals showing up on campus who were sick — and then identified, tested and sent home.

“We do believe the layered (mitigation) approach will allow us to keep our community healthy and safe,” he said. “… I talked with teachers and students, and they are so happy to be back to school to see their friends, to be able to interact like they used to, even though they might all be wearing masks. The socialization is just such an important part of the learning.”

State Health Director Dr. Libby Char said last week that there would be an “inevitable” rise in cases when schools reopen, but that the benefits of keiki being back in the classroom exceeds the risk.

The DOE each week provides a list of COVID-19 cases reported in schools statewide.

State law requires the department to include school names, the date the COVID-positive test was reported to the school, and the date the individual was last on a school campus.

Eight cases were reported in Big Island schools between July 28 and Aug. 5:

• One case reported Aug. 5 at E.B. De Silva Elementary. Last on campus Aug. 5;

• One case reported Aug. 2 at Hilo High. Last on campus July 29.

• One case reported July 30 at Hilo High. Last on campus July 28.

• One case reported Aug. 1 at Kealakehe Intermediate. Last on campus July 30.

• One case reported Aug. 4 at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle. Last on campus May 25.

• One case reported at Aug. 5 Keaau Middle. Not on campus.

• One case reported July 28 at Keaau Middle. Not on campus.

• One case reported Aug. 3 at Keonepoko Elementary. Last on campus Aug. 2.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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