From the Hawai‘i Department of Education:

Last updated: 3/11/20

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is working closely with the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) on guidance for our students, teachers, parents and staff to prepare for and prevent the possible arrival of the COVID-19 disease at school campuses. In close coordination with DOH, existing HIDOE emergency response plans are being adapted for future implementation when needed to help stop the spread of the disease. Detailed communications from schools are planned to keep parents notified should the situation arise. Please view the COVID-19 resources below and learn about specific steps you can take to avoid it.

HIDOE Letter to Parents and Memos

Recommended Resources

Please stay informed with credible sources such as the DOH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additional resources include:

The HIDOE public school system is staffed with trained personnel to respond to health concerns, including proper protocols for recognizing and responding to contagious diseases in schools.

Hawaii Keiki

The Hawaii Keiki: Healthy and Ready to Learn program brings certified school nurses into the public school environment. School nursing is a specialty within nursing that requires expertise in child health and development and passing an examination to be nationally certified.

The program supports and builds school-based health services that screen for treatable health conditions; provide referral to primary health care and patient-centered medical home services; prevent and control communicable disease and other health problems; and provide emergency care for illness or injury.

Under the Hawaii Keiki program, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Nursing master’s prepared RNs (including APRNs also known as nurse practitioners) are assigned to each of HIDOE’s 15 complex areas statewide.

Specifically, the complex area-based Hawaii Keiki Nurses are responsible for the following:

  • Lead the school wellness plan activity.
  • Support the school health assistant (SHA).
  • Assessment and management of acute events.
  • Participation in care management for chronic conditions.
  • Data collection for monitoring of trends in acute and chronic conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Questions about the Virus

Q: Has the name of the virus changed?
A: As of Feb. 11, 2020, it has changed to COVID-19.

Q: What do we know about COVID-19?
A: We are learning new information every day about COVID-19 that emerged in Wuhan, China, late last year. The latest research has determined an incubation period (time of infectivity to development of symptoms) of five days, with a range of 2-14 days. Details about the virus transmission are still being researched and developed. Visit the CDC website for ongoing updates.

Q: What are the COVID-19 symptoms?
A: The most common symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

Q: How is the virus spread?
A: The virus is believed to be spread between people mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Q: Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?
A: There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19.

Q: Are there ways to prevent contracting the virus?
A: The CDC recommends the following preventative actions to reduce the risk of developing the flu or other respiratory diseases, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • When you are sick, stay home.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you haven’t already been immunized against the flu, it is not too late to get a flu shot.

Q: Are surgical masks effective at preventing COVID-19?
A: These masks are not for use in the general public and will not protect you from an infected person. These are best used in health care settings and most effective on the person with symptoms.

Q: Is hand sanitizer good for prevention?
A: While it is helpful to use hand sanitizer, it is still important to wash your hands often with water and soap for at least 20 seconds.

Questions Regarding Students and Schools

Q: If a student is placed on a 14-day home monitoring by the DOH, how would that student’s absences be marked?
A: The absences would be marked as “excused.”

Q: If an employee or student has been exposed, what notifications should go out to the worksite/school community?
A: Should this occur, DOH will work with HIDOE regarding communication to the school community.

Q: What should HIDOE do if someone does not follow DOH guidance on COVID-19 (e.g. comes to school/work with symptoms or despite quarantine)?
A: Persons being monitored at home under DOH supervision will be advised to seek medical care if they develop symptoms. If a person under monitoring without symptoms comes to school, they should be sent home as soon as possible. If a person under home monitoring with symptoms comes to school, if possible, have the student or staff member wear a surgical mask, keep the person isolated, and advise the person to seek medical care (person should notify health care provider of travel to China). If either of these situations occur, please notify DOH immediately.

Q: What if a student traveled to China and returned to Hawaii before Feb. 3?
A: If the student does not have any symptoms of illness, he/she should be enrolled and attending school. If a student is sick, they should not be at school. The student should stay home or go see their medical provider.

Q: The County/DOH/external organization sent me information about COVID-19 to distribute to staff and students, should I send this out?
A: Any correspondence related to COVID-19 for staff or students needs to be routed through the HIDOE School Health Section before disseminating.

Questions Regarding HIDOE Staff

Q: Is the DOH planning to conduct on-going meetings with education partners?
A: All correspondence between the DOH and HIDOE will be routed through the HIDOE School Health Section. The School Health Section will be distributing information to HIDOE leadership about meetings and informational resources as they become available.

Q: How will the DOH notify HIDOE about staff who are being monitored?
A: If a student or school staff member has been screened at the airport and identified for home monitoring, the DOH will be contacting the school. If a non-school (e.g. State or District Office) HIDOE employee has been screened and identified for home monitoring, he/she will be provided with a flyer that tells them to stay home to monitor their health and it is that employee’s responsibility to notify his/her supervisor in HIDOE; i.e. the DOH will not be contacting HIDOE (employer).

Q: How will personal leave be accounted for during quarantine or home monitoring for HIDOE staff (ie. should this be counted towards sick leave)?
A: Administrative leave may be available to those employees who are asymptomatic, but must miss work because they have been screened and identified for home monitoring. If an employee has symptoms of illness and misses work, they should use sick leave.