Updated guidance for the 2021-2022 school year

Jul. 26, 2021

Contributed by eeadmin

We hope that you all had a restorative kauwela, and we are looking forward to welcoming your keiki back to campus soon to launch a brand new school year together. For those who are new members of our kauhale, welcome to our Kamehameha Hawaiʻi ‘ohana!

With the new guidelines recently shared by our KS’ Executive Leadership team, I wanted to provide additional information for your awareness and advanced preparation.

Our kula plans to return to in-person learning at 100% capacity on our campus on August 5. With all that we have learned over the past 18 months, and layered safety protocols we have in place, we are confident that this is the right decision at this time to return to as robust an educational experience and environment as possible. 

The safety of our campus community relies on our personal and collective vigilance to follow all of our layered safety protocols. A number of those measures (including masking, distancing, cleanliness and hygiene) will remain in place to start our school year, with modifications made to our layers based on what we know and where we are, at this time, tailored to grade levels.

The most significant change we will be making for the new school year will be the shift from voluntary to required testing as a layered protocol for unregistered campus employees and grade 7-12 students in place of vaccinations. This shift will allow individuals and our campus to make informed decisions to keep our community and ʻohana safe and prevent COVID-19 spread. Registered students, faculty, and staff will be exempt from testing with the vaccination layer as the safety protocol. Testing details will be provided directly to unregistered individuals next week. 

If you haven’t already and are choosing to register your keiki once fully vaccinated, instructions for how to register are available on our health updates. Simply fill out the medical clearance form and upload your keiki’s card to their secure electronic health record. Testing for unregistered haumāna will begin the week of August 9. 

We are excited for this new school year, and we mahalo you for your resilience, adaptability, and continued partnership to co-create the conditions for our entire kauhale to thrive. I mua aku nō kākou! 


Why not just make vaccinations required?
While we strongly encourage vaccinations among staff and students, we also continue to respect each individual’s personal health choice.

If my keiki gets vaccinated during the school year, when can my keiki stop submitting to a weekly test?
Once registered with KS as fully vaccinated (two weeks after the second dose), individuals will no longer be required to participate in weekly testing or submit daily wellness check-ins.

Why are K-6 students not subject to required testing?
Since students in those grade levels will not be age-eligible to receive the vaccine and do not have a choice, surveillance testing will remain voluntary as other layers will be in place at those grade levels knowing that they are unable to be fully vaccinated. If the vaccine becomes authorized for use for age 5-11 haumāna, our testing requirements and protocols may change. Voluntary testing will be offered to students at these grade levels.

There are more reports of vaccinated people contracting COVID. Why is KS requiring testing only for unvaccinated haumāna?
This latest surge in infection rates is largely attributed to the delta variant which has adversely affected the unvaccinated population at a greater rate than those who are vaccinated. This is the reason we are adding testing of employees and haumāna who have not registered as having been vaccinated as another layer of our safety protocol.

Who has access to my keiki’s vaccination and testing status?
Information provided via the Daily Wellness Check, KSʻ Vaccination registry, and Required Weekly Testing information are protected health information to be used only by those who have a need to know and provide process support.

What if I decided I do not want my child to be tested and choose not to participate?
We understand these are personal decisions. We also must ensure a safe learning environment for all our students and staff, so we offer testing as a required alternative for those who have not registered their vaccination with us. If a student or ʻohana choose to decline the testing option rather than being fully vaccinated, the student or ʻohana will be presented with an option to return next school year and would no longer be enrolled at Kamehameha Schools for the 2021-2022 school year.  

If my keiki has recovered from COVID-19 and has natural immunity, would KS treat my keiki as “vaccinated” for purposes of being exempt from weekly testing?
A keiki who has and can provide documentation of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis within the previous 3 months will not be required to test. After that period, only keiki who are registered with KS as “vaccinated” are exempt from required weekly testing.

Will KS drop the required weekly testing if Hawaii’s case count falls below a certain level? What if Hawaii’s vaccination rate hits 70% and the governor lifts all COVID restrictions?
Our hope is that conditions improve so that we can lessen the layers of protection we have in place. While we continue to monitor and adapt in this COVID-context, we know one way we can see how COVID is directly affecting our campus community is the use of surveillance testing, which was a layer of our safety protocols introduced in November 2020. Required testing will give us a clearer picture of that impact and allow us to respond more quickly to preventing its spread. Required testing is also an alternative to requiring vaccination – something we have chosen not to do – and an added layer of safety for our unvaccinated staff and haumāna and our entire campus community.

Please reach out to your keiki’s poʻo kumu if you need support.

Remaining vigilant in following safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is how we will be able to return and continue in-person learning this year.