June 16, 2020
Aloha to our boarding ‘ohana,
We hope you have been enjoying your summer and see it as a time to recharge with family and loved ones. With the school year over, our focus has shifted to the fall. At this time, we would like to share important information about the boarding program and how it will look when school begins.
With the health and safety of our campus community being our top priority and assuming the current level of risk in this COVID-19 pandemic remains the same by the time school starts, we have decided to reopen boarding to neighbor island seniors ONLY for school year 2020-2021.
All other boarding students in grades 7-11 — as well as seniors from O‘ahu and seniors from neighbor islands who choose not to return to the dorms — will select an option from the menu outlined below. This was a difficult decision to make. We considered various approaches to return all of our boarding students to campus, however, in the end, our ability to safely operate and adhere to guidelines determined the final decision. We are confident that the choices we provide below offer quality options for your child’s education in the 2020-2021 school year.
Our department and campus leadership have had many deep, data-informed conversations about what we need to consider before reopening the dorms. According to guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, school boarding programs present a unique set of challenging risks. Because of the close shared living spaces, equipment, and social activities inherent in congregate housing facilities (i.e., student dormitories), physical distancing may be difficult. That, along with the challenge of isolation and quarantine of any confirmed cases or those who have been in contact with confirmed cases in fully occupied dorms, make this decision necessary for the sake of our entire boarding ‘ohana. Additionally, a survey conducted of our boarding families in late May indicated that the majority of respondents have some degree of reluctance when considering sending their child back to boarding under the current circumstances.
We are taking significant measures to adapt our program to incorporate elevated safety practices and protocols as determined by government, health and school safety guidelines. These strict practices allow us to safely accommodate our required staff and a limited number of students. We have prioritized returning seniors in their final school year, given our limited dorm capacity under these new guidelines.
The truth is these guidelines will have a significant impact to the boarding experience for our neighbor island seniors who choose to return to boarding, including the following protocols:
Boarding students will be required to live in small, family-style cohorts. All activities will be coordinated in cohorts with little to no interaction with other cohorts.
If a student becomes ill and tests positive for COVID-19, a parent or sponsor will need to pick up the child immediately and make off-campus accommodations to quarantine on O ‘ahu for 14 days before returning to your home island. For the safety of the boarding community, the student may not convalesce in Hale Ola or the dormitory.
In the event there is a confirmed COVID-19 case within a boarding cohort group, all close contacts of the student (i.e., the entire cohort) will have to quarantine together in the cohort dorm for at least 14 days. The clock may start over if other members of the cohort test positive, potentially meaning that a 14-day quarantine may extend longer.
Over the summer, the Boarding Office will share more details about the program and the new norms and expectations with our neighbor island seniors who select this option.
The menu of options outlined below reinforces our commitment to 1) prioritizing the safety and regard for our KS boarder ‘ohana and staff and 2) allowing families to choose the option that works best for their situation.
For the remaining boarding student population (boarders in grades 7-11, O‘ahu seniors, and neighbor island seniors who choose not to return to the dorms), the following options are available:
Option 1: DISTANCE LEARNING
Our kumu have already begun refining the distance learning plans that were implemented in the last quarter of school. Improvements like a more streamlined web experience, additional training for kumu and staff, and community-based supplemental resources for distance learning support make this an excellent default choice.
Option 2: BECOME A DAY STUDENT
When considering this option, please know that your ‘ohana will be responsible for identifying, reaching out to and managing all expectations and arrangements with a host family on O ‘ahu prior to the beginning of the school year. Once your private arrangements are secured, your student would attend KS Kapālama as a day student.
Option 3: ATTEND A SCHOOL IN YOUR COMMUNITY, AND WE WILL HOLD YOUR SPACE AT KS
This option allows our KS boarding students to attend another school for year 2020-2021 with our commitment to reserve their space at KS for a future time when we are able to safely welcome more students back to the dorms. We recommend that families contact their school of choice to inquire about enrollment before selecting this option. Students will need to fill out an “Option to Return” contract with KS Kapālama to ensure that they are on a pathway to graduation when they return to KS Kapālama. Seniors who choose this option should discuss potential impacts to graduation requirements with their grade-level counselor.
We thank you for your understanding, and we hope that your needs will be met by one of these options.
The middle and high school offices will be contacting parents/guardians within the next week to initiate next steps. Families will have the opportunity to schedule an appointment to speak with a grade-level counselor or their Dean of Student Well-Being to review the above options and to make a selection that best suits their needs.
Families must communicate their decision to the appropriate middle or high school staff (not the boarding office) no later than July 2, 2020.
In May, when we provided options to families to retrieve, leave or ship their personal belongings, we did so with the expectation that the full boarding program would be resuming in the fall. Given the change in our program, we have decided to pack and ship all remaining belongings of non-returning students.
Mahalo for your understanding and patience through this entire challenging period. Our boarding department staff has left no stone unturned when developing these options for our families. Our greatest regret is that the unusual circumstances prevent us from coming together as a whole boarding ‘ohana. However, we will continue to pule and we look forward to the day when we can continue our boarding journey together again.
If you have any questions about the three options for next school year, the middle and high school offices will be contacting parents/guardians within the next week to initiate next steps. You will be given an opportunity to discuss these options with a grade-level counselor or Dean of Student Well-Being.
Questions about the shipment of personal belongings may be directed to the boarding department office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
KS Kapālama Boarding Department