Remote Options Listed As Start Of Hawaii School Year Nears

HONOLULU (AP) — With less than two weeks before the start of a new school year, Hawaii's Department of Education has posted a list of about 100 schools that will offer distance learning.

Hawaii public school students return to classes Aug. 3.

Offering online instruction is a shift from last month, when Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said there would be no full distance-learning options.

According to department spokeswoman Nanea Kalani, an estimated 10% of the student population expressed interest via surveys in distance learning, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. She said demand could increase if the pandemic continues to worsen. The highly transmissible delta variant has sent Hawaii’s daily count of new COVID-19 cases into triple digits recently.

Distance learning spots are limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students at schools that aren't on the list may apply for geographic exceptions to participate in a different school's online program.

Some parents criticized the state for taking too long to come up with a distance learning plan.

“It's very disappointing,” Bryan Costa, a parent of a third grade student, told Hawaii News Now. “I can't say I'm surprised that the state has waited so long to come up with a plan to be transparent.”

Costa doesn't like that the program at his daughter's school offers no interaction with teachers, who are only there for grading. But he said he's more worried about sending her to in-person classes because the 8-year-old has diabetes and is too young to be vaccinated.