Only a few teachers opt out of first day back at Hawaii public schools

Susan Essoyan:

As of 8:30 a.m. Monday, out of the 12,820 public school teachers statewide, there were 496 requests for substitutes, according to the Department of Education. Substitutes cover for teachers who take personal leave or are out sick as well as vacant positions. On any given day, the number of subs needed ranges from 300 to 1,000, the department said.

At Waialua, all teachers came to work except for one who was out sick, Alexander said. While the day went well for the kids, she acknowledged it was a lot of work for the staff, given the new safety protocols.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she said. “We are all exhausted.”

Hunter Harris, 17, has been on the front lines of the debate over school reopenings as the student representative on the statewide Board of Education. He is starting his senior year at Kapolei High from his home in Makakilo.

His school originally intended to have all students come to campus for a full day of orientation over this week, but ultimately made it optional and cut the time to two hours, he said.

“With the recent triple-­digit cases for the past week, almost two weeks, it was very smart on their part to lessen the time and the number of kids,” he said. “I think that right now we need to come together as a community to make sure we are all safe,” he said. Collaboration is so key right now.”