Punahou’s Pandemic Response Team – comprised of faculty, staff and administrators, including an epidemiologist – has established safety and health guidelines to adapt to changing health conditions. “We have made unprecedented investments in campus safety measures, reconceived our school day and campus-wide operations and enlisted the perspectives of parents, teachers, staff, medical experts and fellow school and governmental leaders,” President Mike Latham ’86 said.
Taking into account a variety of conditions and data – including the average number of new cases and percentage of positive tests in Hawai‘i and our Punahou community – the School will continue to provide weekly updates assessing conditions, including the color level the School is operating under.
“Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate the challenges and disruptions of the current situation,” Latham said. “Like all schools, businesses and other institutions, we are operating in an environment of uncertainty and cannot predict the future. We have, however, aimed to create the most resilient and flexible response we can. We also believe our approach allows us to deliver an excellent education that is fully aligned with the need to promote the safety of our students, faculty and staff.”
Junior School – Kindergarten – Grade 8
For on-campus learning, younger children in kindergarten through grade 3 have been placed in smaller groups. Grades 4 – 8 class sizes are the same, but classrooms are configured for social distancing. ln grades 6 – 8, the focus is on reducing exposure and mixing of student groupings by moving away from the typical modular schedule to a block schedule. As a result, students have fewer classes per day for longer periods of time.
The Junior School is on a Monday – Friday cycle, as opposed to the traditional six-day cycle (A through F days), to ease transitions between on-campus and distance learning.
Special classes like art, music, ‘ike Hawai‘i, Design Technology, library, PE, Social Emotional Ethical Learning and Global Learning are taking place weekly.
Academy – Grades 9 – 12
During times of on-campus instruction, Academy students are assigned cohorts and attend classes and eat lunch with the same group of students, to limit their exposure to others.
Courses combine semester-long courses with block-intensive courses, but still utilize the traditional A – F cycle day schedule. Eligible students also are taking part in a new offering, called Explorations, which allow students to explore unique, authentic and transdisciplinary topics without being graded.
Although Academy students have, in the past, had unstructured free time, with the ability to move throughout the campus, students do not have unsupervised “free” time on campus, in an effort to adhere to safety measures. Rather, when not in class, they are assigned a “home base” to work, decompress or socialize.
Health and Safety First
Over the summer, Punahou made a significant investment in equipment, staffing and facility adjustments to make school safer for students and employees while on campus. Additional teachers were hired to reduce class sizes; classes were reconfigured to allow for proper social distancing; signs reminding of various safety measures were posted across the School; hand-washing stations were installed; and students, faculty and staff received two masks and a face shield. Many other measures and changes (outlined on page 51) were adopted.
To keep our School as safe and healthy as possible during this time of COVID-19, our Pandemic Response Team urges the Punahou ‘ohana to adhere to recommended health and safety measures both on campus and at home – staying home when sick, limiting social gatherings, wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance when in the presence of those outside.
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