COVID-19 changes for the Second Semester (starting Jan. 4, 2022)

Oct. 8, 2021

Contributed by Communications Staff

Aloha mai kākou,
Mahalo nui i nā haumāna, nā ʻohana, a me nā limahana o Ke Kula ʻo Kamehameha no kā ʻoukou hana poʻokela ma ka hapahā mua o kēia makahiki, ma ka hoʻopalekana ʻana i kā mākou mau keiki, a no ka hoʻoikaika mau me ka lōkahi. Thank you to our Kamehameha Schools students, families and staff, for your amazing work this First Quarter, for keeping our keiki safe, and for staying strong and together. We are truly blessed and deeply grateful.
We started this school year with a commitment to in-person learning. To do this safely, we mandated that all our staff and students (ages 12+) register with us as vaccinated or test weekly. We coordinated testing at our sites and added a stronger mandate for participation in athletics. These requirements were part of our complete COVID-19 program of layered prevention.
Through the First Quarter, we maintained a strong testing program (approximately 1,400 tests per week), revealing case counts (approximately 35 per week) that tracked with statewide trends. Though we have kept the spread of cases low at our sites (four verified cases for SY21-22), there have been disruptions from quarantines (average absences approximately 9% overall; 14% unregistered students ages 12+). These disruptions correlated to community cases and our vaccination rates (75% of students ages 12+, 86% of staff).
Overall, we have enjoyed seeing our keiki return in person, and we believe we all can do more. Even with all our extra efforts, in-person time was lost, and experiences could have been even better. It is also clear from public and KS data that vaccination has a significant impact on infection rates, severity of illness, and absences, which affect in-person learning, quality of environment, and overall well-being. 
Therefore, we are announcing these changes for the Second Semester (which starts on Jan. 4, 2022):
For KS staff: We appreciate that all of you have been working hard to keep our keiki safe and deliver the best possible in-person education. Yet, in this role of service to our keiki, each of us also knows that more is always asked of us, and we have accepted this as our privilege. For the Second Semester:

  • All staff will be required to register as fully vaccinated by the end of the First Semester (December 17, 2021).  There will no longer be a weekly testing option in lieu of vaccination, unless you have an approved medical or religious exemption.  This applies to all staff, including education and non-education staff, at all locations, whether working in-person, hybrid, or remotely.   
  • Regrettably, staff who do not meet this requirement will face termination, immediately or at the earliest date thereafter, as we determine necessary, to assure continuity of services to our families. Please refer to the updated KS policy for the specific requirements.

For KS students: We strongly encourage you and your family to vaccinate, if you can. This is for your and our school community’s safety, and so that as many as possible can fully benefit from the in-person school experiences we are working so hard to provide. It will also allow you to be ready for our next school year when we anticipate having stronger requirements. For the Second Semester:

  • All students (ages 12+) will continue to be required to register as vaccinated or test weekly. Details on campus-specific requirements will be distributed by your campus and program leaders.
  • Full in-person learning will remain our preferred and recommended model. We hope to add even more activities and interactions to improve the student experience, as conditions allow.
  • We will introduce a new Concurrent Learning Model. This will allow students to switch flexibly between in-person and distance modes (primarily through digital cameras in classrooms) as conditions change and as an innovative tool that will allow us to better serve our students in the future. Details of this model will be distributed by your campus and program leaders.
  • For students who are not registered as vaccinated, you should anticipate that, for your and our school community’s safety and for everyone’s learning continuity:
    • You may not be allowed to participate in certain school activities, like athletics.
    • You may be required to switch to a distance-only mode under our Concurrent Learning Model if enrolled in higher-risk programs, during quarantine periods, and when conditions warrant (e.g., periods of elevated community spread).

Lastly, we ask that we all stay flexible, knowing that conditions and our understanding of COVID-19 will continue to evolve. We will continue to do our best to keep our keiki safe, while providing the best educational experiences possible. Your campus and program leaders will be communicating directly with you to share more details on these and other expectations for the remainder of the school year. 
Ke Akua pū,
Kamehameha Schools Executive Leadership Team