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COVID-19 hits schools hard

By: Mathew Vasconcellos

28 October 2020

School buses lined up while students are learning online. (Taxiarchos228, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia commons)

The 2020 calendar year started out like any other.


Friday March 6, 2020 would unexpectedly mark the LAST TIME that students would set foot on their local school campuses -- public, private, AND college. March 6 was the day before all schools went on Spring Break. During that time, the entire country was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools turned into ghost towns, flights were grounded, sporting events were either postponed or canceled, and graduating high school and/or college seniors would not get a traditional ceremony. And all we could do was stay home.


Hawaiʻi schools were only two and a half months away from summer break. The 2019-2020 school year was supposed to end before Memorial Day weekend at the end of May.  It still did, but under distance learning.  There were only eight weeks remaining in the 2020 University of Hawaiʻi Spring semester before COVID-19 forced all classes to move to Zoom.


David Yung, a second and third-grade teacher at Maunawili School, spoke with me via Zoom about what’s happened since the 2020-21 school year began in August.


“Communication’s been OK,” said Yung.  “We use online communication with the parents, and the communication piece has been OK, but what troubles me is the fact that kids are missing out on that social aspect of schooling.”


Yung also expresses concern about parents taking on a double role as parents AND teachers.


“I know that it could be difficult for some families,” said Yung.


Today, only a handful of students are seen on all campuses. Yung currently has his classroom at Maunawili School all to himself.


“Teaching is definitely a social career and just being alone by myself in the classroom can be kinda draining, especially being in front of the computer all day,” said Yung.


Yung has also kept himself busy since he’s a part of a new school program called ACELLUS.  It’s a program that helps students out with subjects like math, language arts, science, and social studies.


“What I do throughout the day is I pull small reading groups to help students improve in their reading,” said Yung.  “I feel like lacking that physical experience within the school also hinders their ability to learn to read because you can’t possibly learn that on a computer.”


According to Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, in-person learning may not happen again until the 2021 calendar year begins

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