Using an online survey, Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i (PPSH) surveyed parents and families about how their children were faring at home during COVID-19. Responses were received from April 2 until May 11, 2020 and contained 216 parent records disaggregated into eight school districts (Honolulu, Central, Leeward, Windward, Hawaii island, Maui, Kauai, and charter schools). Subsets were created by elementary, middle, high school grade levels. Findings indicated while the majority of respondents did have computers and Internet access, there were concerns about variability in teaching and learning from home, children needing more socio-emotional support, problems with motivation, and more support for those students with special needs. Five themes were identified in the respondent comments
- Devices and connectivity – As our survey was conducted online, how about the families who do not have computers or Internet access and connections? Those families probably did not respond to the PPSH survey. To what extent are computers and/or tablets being provided by the schools, especially for elementary grade levels? Also, the cost of computer devices and Internet service will need to be factored into expenses. Has the DOE considered this? What changes in technology service and support might be projected for the next school year? With different technology platforms, parents might need technology assistance going forward.
- Teaching delivered by parents at home – How can educators help families to support their children’s learning, particularly when parents are also working from home? What considerations have been given to families with more than one child at different grade levels? What supports were being provided to parents as surrogate teachers during this time and in the future? To what extent could the school ensure there was consistent communication with home and family, not variability as noted in the findings?
- Children need socio-emotional support –To what extent have educators (schools, teachers, counselors and staff) considered these socio-emotional needs of children and their parents/families? Is there a way to promote the students staying in touch with peers and teachers?
- Children with special needs require more support –How have educators considered supporting SPED students and their families especially if this continues into next school year? It is likely that they will need more than those in regular education.
- Motivation is a problem – How can home learning activities be more engaging? What guidance and rewards can be offered to urge and incentivize student work? Can we capitalize on the time and no testing, to allow for student-centered project-based learning? If school starts up with distance learning in late summer, will the first quarter be enrichment only or will parents be expected to deliver the curriculum?
Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i would like to thank the family members who responded to this survey. We suggest that the Hawai‘i public school leaders apply these findings and questions to preparations for the next school year. We also hope that school leaders will maintain open and two-way communication with public school families so that we can all work toward equitable and excellent education for the children of our State.