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Before the break, we wanted to give ʻohana some important look fors for the second half of the year in how we plan to elevate safety even more.

Adjustments to our COVID policies and support

Oct. 8, 2021

Contributed by Shaundor Chillingworth

ʻAnoʻai me ke aloha e nā ʻohana o Kamehameha Hawaiʻi,

With Fall Break mere moments away, our hope is that this time will be restorative and reflective as we realize how much has been accomplished over the past two months. We were able to return 100% of our haumāna to in-person learning, student athletes return to competition starting tomorrow, and after-school activities and clubs are once again available to spark our haumāna’s passions. Through it all, we have remained safe and have embraced our kuleana to diligently follow and keep intact the many layers of safety protocols to malāma our kauhale. 

While we are encouraged by the recent data trends as it relates to COVID in our school community, Hawaiʻi County continues to remain an area of high community transmission, underscoring how important it is to remain vigilant to minimize spread, protect ourselves, and create the conditions to return more normalcy back into our lives.

There are three key changes your ʻohana should know:

  1. Like student-athletes, all KS employees will be required to be vaccinated. Employees will have until December 17 to register or request a religious or medical exemption through the accommodation process.
  2. Required weekly screening testing will be extended to all of our middle school, to include 6th graders, starting on January 4, 2022.
  3. New technologies are coming soon to keep students connected in the classroom when they are impacted.


Vaccination Requirement for all KS employees and student-athletes

KS leadership has made the decision enterprise-wide to require the COVID vaccine for all KS employees effective January 4, 2022. While a significant portion of our kula is registered as vaccinated, faculty and staff are still being impacted by close contact quarantines. Vaccination currently remains the only way to avoid an extended quarantine in accordance with the Department of Health (DOH) requirements.

BIIF competition rules require all student-athletes and coaches to be vaccinated or participate in twice-a-week testing with an exemption. Winter sport athletes (basketball, paddling, soccer, swimming and diving, and wrestling) should plan to have their vaccinations completed before the start of their season. ʻOhana may continue to request a religious and medical exemption form by emailing Carl deLeon, RN in our high school health room at

While the requirement only applies to high school student-athletes and employees, KS continues to encourage students and ʻohana who are eligible, to get vaccinated as a layer of protection.


COVID-19 Testing Program Continues; required for all middle and high school students

All grade 7-12 students, employees, visitors, vendors, and volunteers are currently required to participate in weekly testing, unless they register as fully vaccinated with Kamehameha Schools or are recovered from having COVID within the past 90 days.

Starting January 4, 2022, all grade 6 students will also be included in the testing requirement to allow for additional monitoring as 6th graders have made up 77% of Kula Waena cases since August. By adding this additional layer of safety, we hope to guard against spread. Sixth grade ʻohana will receive additional information around the testing requirements and process next month.

All students and employees are currently eligible to participate in testing regardless of their vaccination status, provided by KS so individuals can make informed choices about their health, and monitor how COVID continues to impact our community. New testing resources became available this month, including weekly drive-thru screening and a daily rapid antigen screening station for athletes, administered by Premier Medical Group. Combined with weekly take-home saliva test kits for students, KS Hawaiʻi has made testing accessible so that we can better combat against COVID spread.


New technologies are being installed over Fall Break to keep students connected

The Delta variant has brought much disruption to many students and kumu due to the quarantine periods that are required by the DOH for close contacts. While the hope is that we will continue to experience fewer cases as transmission rates decline, we believe quarantines may continue to be a factor for our kula.

To help keep students connected to their classrooms, new OWL Pro camera devices are being set-up in classrooms to assist with synchronous learning when students need to quarantine and/or when a class/cohort pivots to distance learning, in conjunction with other learning resources provided through Seesaw or Canvas. More information will be forthcoming from poʻo kumu.

We will also be piloting a new wearable badge with groups of students in each kula to improve the accuracy and precision of contact tracing. More information will be provided after we return from the Fall Break.

As you can see, there are a number of changes on the horizon reflecting our continued commitment to the safety and well-being of our kauhale. We’ll share more with everyone as information is available. Until then, we wish you a safe and restful week ahead.
Mālama pono!

New camera devices are being installed in classrooms over the break to allow students who are unable to be in-class, the opportunity to still connect with what's taking place.

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