With just a month left of the school year, the Hawaii Department of Education is remaining firm on requiring students to wear masks indoors despite disagreements among some parents.

In a letter sent to the parents on Monday, Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi acknowledged the varying perspectives regarding the mask mandates in schools.

He added that the DOE is continuing to follow the state Department of Health’s recommendations and will maintain the mandate through May 27, the last day of school for teachers.

“Keeping our schools open and safe has been a collective effort and I am grateful for all that our families have done for our school communities,” Hayashi wrote.

fault lines President William McKinley High School located at 1039 S. King Street. Honolulu, Hawaii. DOE. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Although the state Department of Education eased its outdoor mask policy, students and staff are still required to wear masks indoors. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The decision comes weeks after Hawaii lifted its statewide indoor mask mandate as the number of coronavirus cases dropped.

Although the state Department of Education has eased its outdoor mask policy, students and staff are still required to wear masks indoors.

However, the DOE said it will no longer require individual close contact identification, notification and quarantine of in-school Covid exposures as long as “universal indoor masking is implemented.”

“This major shift in quarantine guidance aligns with our ongoing priority of maintaining in-person learning students,” it added.

Charter schools also have maintained the indoor mask mandate. Sheryl Turbeville, a spokeswoman for the state Public Charter School Commission, said no decision has been made on whether to change that.

The University of Hawaii also will continue to implement its indoor mask policy through the spring semester.

State education officials remain cautious as a new, highly contagious omicron variant arrived in Hawaii and cases have begun to rise again.

The DOE reported 263 cases between April 4 and April 13, bringing the total to 185,038. The numbers include students and staff on the DOE campuses.

For graduation, the DOE will require masks for indoor ceremonies, although graduates may remove their masks for pictures. Participants in ceremonies also will be required to be either fully vaccinated or show a negative Covid-19 test at least 48 hours prior to the ceremony, according to the department.

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