BOE approves Aug. 17 start date for students

The state Board of Education has approved a recommendation to delay students’ return to school to Aug. 17.

The action to revise the 2020-21 calendar came during an emergency meeting today. The BOE heard more than two hours of testimony from educators and parents and had more than 90 minutes of discussion on the matter this afternoon before taking a vote shortly after 5 p.m.

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Board member Bruce Voss cast the lone “no” vote.

In a memo to the BOE, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto recommended approval of the delay to Aug. 17 — a move agreed upon by the DOE, Hawaii Government Employees Association, and United Public Workers — and said the move provides teachers and employees an additional nine days without students for training and professional development, including mandatory department-directed and administrator-directed training.

Before a regular meeting of the BOE last week, thousands of pages of written testimony were submitted, wherein many teachers and parents urged a delay from the original Aug. 4 start date.

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Some cited the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in Hawaii, while others argued more time was needed to better prepare for the return of students in the midst of the pandemic.

However, because the matter wasn’t on the agenda, no action was taken at that time.

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