More than 250 public schools across the state reopened their doors Tuesday in a return to full on-campus learning.

Education and health officials have said the benefits of getting kids back in classrooms, with enhanced safety measures, are greater than the risks after nearly a year and a half of online instruction because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hawaii health officials reported 389 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, including 266 on Oahu, 34 on Maui, 65 on the Big Island, six on Kauai, and 18 residents diagnosed out of state. The statewide test positivity rate rose slightly above 6%. The national average is 7.8%.

One fatality recorded on Maui took the state COVID-19 death toll to 538.

Waialae Elementary Public Charter school staff Melanie Sumida assists with arriving students. Waialae Elementary started last week.
Waialae Elementary Public Charter school staff Melanie Sumida assists with arriving students. Waialae Elementary started last week. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Keith Hayashi, Department of Education interim schools superintendent, said during a press conference Monday that schools would strictly adhere to safety protocols by following the state’s layered reopening strategy to promote vaccination for children 12 years and older and encourage good hygiene, masking up indoors and staying home when ill.

“In-person learning contributes to the overall well-being of our students – from the availability of social and emotional support resources, to food security through our school meal program, through extra-curricular activities,” Hayashi said. “Right now, the state is open for business with no other industry shut down. Schools are ready to open as well, and we can do it safely.”


COVID-19 NAAT Laboratory Test 7-day Percent Positivity by State/Territory Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Approximately 1,764,469 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the islands as of Tuesday, raising the rate to 60.3%, according to the Department of Health.

There are currently 145 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Hawaii, including 24 in intensive care and 16 people on ventilators. During the last peak of infections in September, as many as 50 people needed ventilators.

So far, there have been no announcements to impose restrictions to move back from Tier 5, which is the state’s least restrictive guidelines on gathering size and traveling since the start of the pandemic.

For more information, check this Hawaii Department of Health COVID-19 site or this state site, and the Hawaii Data Collaborative COVID-19 Tracking site. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency also provides this comprehensive dashboard.

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