Coronavirus Update: A Message to Our Families

Dear Punahou Families,
There are times when extraordinary challenges call upon us to make difficult decisions, with faith in ourselves and each other. The current coronavirus pandemic, which has swept across the globe at an alarming rate, is the great challenge of our day. While the scope and scale of the pandemic may seem overwhelming, we can and will stand together now to take preventive measures that will help us overcome this threat.

Punahou announces the following actions:
• We will extend our Spring Break for students by two days, through Tuesday, March 31, to enable our faculty to finish their preparations for distance learning.

• Starting Wednesday, April 1, we will implement distance learning across the Junior School and the Academy. There will be no on-campus instruction or school activities.

• We will continue to review and assess conditions during the month of April to determine if it is possible to resume on-campus instruction. Given the serious nature of this situation, however, families should prepare for the possibility that we may continue distance learning through the end of the academic year on May 28.

• Our distance learning plan will be shared with families within the next few days.

• At present, we expect to continue with our plans for the summer session.

We have made these decisions for two reasons. First, we are compelled to take all steps possible to promote the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. Second, we believe this will help to stem the tide of the outbreak before it spreads beyond our health care system’s ability to deal with it. This decision was made on the advice of medical experts and epidemiologists. It also aligns with the guidelines regarding social distance and gatherings put forth by the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the federal government. Finally, it aligns with similar measures being taken by many fellow independent schools here in Hawai‘i and around the nation. As a Board Member of the Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools (HAIS), I have been particularly encouraged by our collaborative efforts to exchange information and advice.

We recognize, moreover, that each school must choose for itself what is best for its teachers, staff, and students. There are no easy answers, and individual circumstances can often dictate different paths a school might take. We respect and support all schools as they work to navigate through this difficult situation, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all whose lives are affected by it.

I know the days and weeks ahead will be a challenging time for our families and our School. But I also know that we have faced adversity in the past and emerged even stronger. Throughout Punahou’s 179-year history, we have faced other periods of upheaval, global pandemics, economic depression and two World Wars, the second of which saw the temporary closure of our campus. Throughout the years, we have shown our light with compassion, perseverance and hope. I am confident that together, at this moment in history, Punahou will do that once again.

With gratitude and aloha,

Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86

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