With health conditions improving in Hawai‘i, Punahou plans to welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus for the 2020 – 21 school year, adhering to new guidelines established by the School’s Pandemic Response Team.
The team of faculty, staff and administrators released an extensive plan (See Return to Campus plan.) on Monday that recognizes the importance of in-person teaching, while taking necessary precautions to keep everyone on campus healthy and safe, and support the health of our broader Hawai‘i community. When school resumes on Aug. 19, 2020, Punahou will initiate many new protocols for students at all grade levels and employees, including the following:
Members of the Pandemic Response Team will convene daily to monitor health indicators, which include the number of COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i; the number of students and employees on campus who report illnesses; the number of people with recorded fevers through our thermal imaging stations; and a host of other data points. Punahou will issue an update to the health risk status of the School in the form of a four-tiered Color Code system – green (low); yellow (moderate); orange (heightened) and red (high). The code will be shared on the Punahou School website, and any changes in status (e.g. Green to Yellow or Yellow to Orange) will be communicated to families.
Health and Safety Measures
The following is a list of safety measures the School will adopt, regardless of the alert level:
Face coverings: Students and employees will wear face coverings throughout the school day. Face coverings will be provided to students and faculty prior to the start of school.
Physical distancing: Movement on campus will be controlled and directed to reduce the mixing of students. In classrooms, students will be seated with spacing to minimize transmission risk, but allowed to interact more closely for limited periods with additional safety measures and greater supervision in place.
Cohorts and decreased mixing of students: Academic schedules and classroom use will be designed to keep students in smaller, consistent groups during the day. This will reduce the risk of viral transmission and allow for discrete cohorts to quarantine in the event of infection without requiring that the entire campus close and shift to distance learning.
Hand hygiene: Students and faculty will follow a regular schedule of hand washing or use of hand sanitizer throughout the day. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be available in every classroom and outside every building entrance to ensure regular access.
Enhanced cleaning/ disinfection schedule: Daily cleaning practices will be compliant with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations, including the types of cleaning products used and the frequency of cleaning. Special attention will be paid to the cleaning of high touch surfaces throughout the day.
Health screening: Families are asked to monitor their household members for symptoms, including fever, and avoid bringing sick children to school. Regular temperature and symptoms screening will be conducted for all students, employees and visitors to campus. Students with symptoms will be separated from other students, and parents/guardians will be contacted to arrange pick-up within the hour.
Updated sick policy and enforcement practices: Rules regarding sick policies for students and employees will be enhanced and strictly enforced to minimize the number of sick people on campus, as well as to allow continuity of learning from home for mildly ill or asymptomatic students. More details about this sick policy, including what symptoms to check for and who to notify if sick, will be shared later this summer.
Quarantine and contact tracing: If a student or employee has a COVID-19 infection, specially trained and qualified school officials will support the State Department of Health’s efforts for contact tracing and enforcing quarantining of those infected and their contacts. Provisions will be made to support continuity of learning from home during quarantine periods.
Cafeteria/food service: We anticipate that food services options will be reduced in the fall. Lunch options will be provided to students in their classroom and self-serve options will not be available. We are still working out the details of food services and will be able to provide more detailed information later in the summer. As always, students will be able to bring home lunches to school as well.
Other safe classroom practices: Teaching methods will be adjusted to minimize shared equipment or learning materials between students; Classroom practices will reduce transfer of objects between home and school and touching of other students’ personal belongings; Infrastructure will be put in place to minimize surfaces which cannot easily be disinfected.
Self care and well-being: Pedagogy and classroom practices will provide greater attention to student mental health and well-being to build resilience and cope with the stress or anxiety students may experience in this pandemic context.
Excursions and camps: All off-campus excursions and camps will be suspended.
Visitors on campus: All visitors to campus, including parents, will be screened upon arrival. In elevated states of alert, visitors may be required to make an appointment prior to arrival. (These provisions will not apply to parents simply picking up children.)
Travel policy: Families should avoid all unnecessary travel. If a student travels outside the state for any reason, the family must notify the School and the student must self-quarantine upon their return for 14 days. Provisions will be made to support continuity of learning from home during quarantine periods.
Chapels, assemblies and large group gatherings: Based on guidance from state health officials banning gatherings of more than 50 persons, all large group gatherings will beheld virtually at all safety tiers.
Junior School (Kindergarten – Grade 8)
- To reduce the density of classrooms, students In kindergarten – Grade 3 will be divided into smaller groups, with a lead teacher and an assistant. The class sizes in Grades 4 – 8 will remain comparable to current class sizes, but classrooms will be configured to allow for social distancing.
- The movement of students between classrooms will be limited throughout the day. At various times, faculty will move between classrooms or provide remote instruction to a class. The Junior School (K – Grade 8) will move to a Monday – Friday cycle as opposed to our traditional six-day cycle (A through F days).
- The K – Grade 5 schedule is redesigned to limit the broad exposure of our students, to minimize the mixing of students, and to maintain opportunities for courses that were previously held in shared facilities. It is also designed to create a more simplified experience for families should the need for at-home learning arise. The schedule preserves the consistent delivery of core content and will continue to incorporate Specials content (i.e. Art, Music, Design Technology, PE).
- ln the Middle School (Grades 6 – 8), the focus will be on reducing exposure and mixing of student groupings by moving away from the typical modular schedule to a block schedule approach. The block schedule will mean that students have fewer classes per day for longer periods of time. This structure helps to limit a student’s exposure to a larger cohort size while still allowing the student to experience the full slate of academic courses and as many electives as possible.
- The Academy’s A – F (Cycle Day) academic schedule for the fall has been modified to reduce the size of cohorts that students interact with throughout their school day. Students will have a combination of semester-long courses that meet two times per cycle throughout the semester and block intensive courses that meet for two hours a day for a period or “block” of five to six weeks. The purpose of this is to ensure that students are kept in cohorts that are as small as possible so that, in the event that infections occur on campus, we are able to minimize the number of students who need to quarantine at home. We also want to streamline the number of courses students, and allow the School to move smoothly between the pandemic tiers, from on-campus learning, to blended learning, to full at-home continual learning, as required by health conditions.
- Supervision: To ensure smaller cohorts, Academy students will be in supervised assigned classroom spaces at each hour of the day while they are on campus. We recognize that this is a shift from the previous Academy experience of unstructured time, and we will be working over the course of the summer to design these “home bases” in a way that will serve students as best as we can in this context. During these home base times, students will be able to work on their school work (much of which will be in a blended context in the yellow through orange levels), interact with peers, and have unstructured down time.
- Hours: Students will be in supervised experiences for the duration of their time on campus. School day hours will be from 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Additional Block Intensives (non-credit-bearing learning experiences): We will be exploring some additional intensive courses for select students as their schedules permit. These courses will be deep dives into areas of academic focus such as: global issues, science and public health, civil discourse, public service, issues of sustainability, or Hawaiian affairs, to name a few possibilities.
Extracurricular Performing Arts, Student Clubs and Extended Learning
For the time being, extracurricular opportunities will take place in an online context. Performing arts that are part of the credit-bearing curriculum will continue, but in a modified context. More information about all of these plans will be forthcoming over the course of the summer.
Physical education will operate in a modified context in the fall as we anticipate limited use of locker room spaces at all pandemic tiers. More information will be provided later this summer along with student schedules.
Punahou hopes to offer sports programs during the fall season that follow city and state COVID-19 guidelines for interscholastic competition and align with the School’s health policies. A “return to play” guide for student-athletes, families and coaches will be shared in the first week of July. This guide will also reflect the best practices and recommendations of the HHSAA, ILH, and National Federation of High School Sports. Please note that return to play guidelines and dates may be modified based on changes in the COVID-19 safety levels.