CEO Message: Staying strong together

Mar. 22, 2020

Contributed by Jack Wong

An update from KS CEO Jack Wong

Aloha kākou,

Our community finds itself in unprecedented times, so I want to take a moment to provide you with an update on Kamehameha Schools’ response to COVID-19.

Let me start with some facts that we know. Every day, every hour, there are more COVID-19 cases being discovered in our community — that seemingly distant train has arrived.

Now is not the time to let worry set in, but there is new urgency, and there are things each of us must do. Right now, our social distancing, our health practices, and our support of our community leaders, first-responders, and essential service providers cannot be half-done. We must be excellent, if we are going to protect the health and lives of our loved ones.

And to that end, our Board of Trustees and I are determined to have Kamehameha Schools be excellent for our community.

Last week, to support social distancing, most of our employees began working at home, while our teachers and students continued their spring break. Starting this week, all our offices and campuses will be closed. Other than our most essential staff, all our employees will be working from home.

However, please know that our work and service to our communities continue:

  • We will soon resume instruction at all our campuses and preschools through distance learning programs. Our administrators, teachers, and staff are hard at work preparing for this, so that our keiki can continue to learn, even while at home.
  • We are supporting our staff and their families during this period. We do not anticipate any furloughs or layoffs, and we have a program in place to continue paying our valued staff, so that they can work at home without having the additional worry of their jobs or salaries.
  • We are providing for the safety and stewardship of our ʻāina and other resources. New social-distancing protocols are in place for us to do this essential work.
  • We are supporting our tenants in our shopping centers and commercial properties — many of whom continue to provide essential services, goods and food to our communities. On March 23, we will initiate a rent-deferral program for those retail tenants who are most in need.
  • We are actively responding to the volatile financial markets. Volatility has impacted our endowment, but we have well-planned strategies for these type of market events. We remain financially strong. And, we are adjusting plans and budgets to remain financially prudent.
  • We are reprioritizing our day-to-day community work and resources to focus on supporting our partners to try to ensure that all keiki are cared for and educated during this period. We are shifting our focus to these and other critical community supports

At Kamehameha Schools and in Hawai‘i, our community has always come together in times of crisis. We will confront this challenge in the same way that we have so many others — with faith in Ke Akua, compassion, grace and aloha. And, I have no doubt we will emerge better and stronger as a people and as a community.

Mahalo for your support and contributions during this challenging time.

Me Ke Akua Pū,