2020/2021 School Year Updates for our Ho`ala `Ohana from Head of School - Phyllis Norton

Updated: August 20, 2020

Dear Ho`ala School Families,

On Tuesday after the Governor’s announcement of a stricter order to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, we consulted with key members of our school board for recommendations. At that time we were mandated to transition to distance learning starting on Monday, August 24. 

I appreciate the kindness, grace, and understanding that I received when I spoke with all of you yesterday. Many of you expressed gratefulness to the school staff and board, of which I express my gratitude. I want you to know that decisions like reverting from face to face learning to a distance learning model are not taken lightly. However, the health, safety, and emotional wellbeing of our students and my staff are my number one priority.

Seeing the Covid-19 positive numbers increase over the past two days solidifies that we have made the proper decision. We will continue to monitor these numbers daily and will be meeting the week prior to our potential return to school on Tuesday, September 8. At this moment, I don’t know how our return will look, but rest assured that we will always keep your child’s safety and health first on our minds. 

Please see the attached for our revised Ho`ala Distance Learning Plan (HDLP). Please read it carefully as it has a lot of information on questions you may have. Additionally, every student now has a Gmail account. The HDLP explains how to log into their account on page 6. Please open your child’s account by Sunday afternoon so the faculty can give assignments.

Your child’s teacher will be conducting classes and/or support through Zoom on Monday through Thursday. The Zoom schedule is attached to this email.

I would also like to acknowledge the entire staff of Ho`ala School. Each and every one of us would much rather have our students with us in school. We care for them so much that we are willing to set our own emotions aside and do what we feel is right and in their best interest. Since weeks before opening the school, my staff worked tirelessly to prepare. They not only made sure that they were ready to teach, but they had to rearrange their classrooms and schedules to ensure the safety of everyone. The staff has worked many, (many!) hours above and beyond what is expected of them; but not once did they complain or put in less effort. Now that we have made a major change in school, they are again willing to work those exhaustingly long hours again to create the best program for our children. I am super proud to not only call them colleagues, but they are my friends. Together we make a mighty team!  

Please let me know if you have any questions or need further information. Again, I appreciate you trusting Ho`ala School in our efforts to keep your child safe, healthy, educated, and happy.

Please stay safe and be well,




Update: July 20, 2020

Dear Ho`ala `Ohana, 


We are eagerly looking forward to welcoming our students, faculty and staff back to campus on Wednesday, August 12.  At Ho`ala, we will always place the health and well-being of our school community as our highest priority while also recognizing the indelible social and emotional benefits that an on-campus education brings. We wanted to share some important information with you as we begin the new school year. Further updates will be provided to you as we near the start of school.

We wanted to give you this information as soon as possible so you can make the necessary arrangements. 

The first two weeks of school will be half days only until noon. Wednesday, August 12 - Thursday, August 20.  No Before or After School Care will be provided during this two week period. Lunch will also not begin until after the half day period has ended. Lunch period will start Monday, August 24. (A catered lunch menu will be available soon.)

Half days will be devoted to assessing students’ learning needs, acclimating students and teachers to the new norm, reviewing protocols, and building relationships with our students.  

The second half of the day will give teachers a chance to review those assessments, share results with colleagues and plan for any changes that may be necessary as we move forward.

A new staggered start and end schedule will apply during this half day time period as well. 



Normal school hours for all students will begin on Monday, August 24. The hours of school have also been adjusted for the 20/21 School Year as follows: 

Kindergarten and 1st Grade Students:

For the first two weeks of school, August 12 - August 20:

Arrival between 7:30am and 7:45am. Dismissal at 12noon. 

Regular Bell Schedule Beginning August 24:

Arrival between 7:30am and 7:45am Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday. Dismissal at 2pm. (Students in the before school care may arrive at 6:30am. After school program ends at 5:30pm.)

Wednesday: School ends at 12:45pm. (Students go directly into the After School Program if applicable.)


2nd Grade through 8th Grade Students: 

For the first two weeks of school, August 12 - August 20: 

Arrival between 7:45 and 8am. Dismissal at 12:15pm. 

Regular Bell Schedule Beginning Monday, August 24:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday: Arrival between 7:45am & 8:00am  Dismissal at 2:15pm (Students in the before school care may arrive at 6:30am. After school program ends at 5:30pm.)

Wednesday: School Day ends at 1:00pm 

(Students go directly into the After School Program if applicable.)


The Extended Day program (Before and After School) will begin on Monday, August 24. 


The staggered start and end bell schedule is to reduce the exposure with fellow students as they arrive on campus. Families who have multiple children may bring your child at the earlier start time if necessary. The staggered start time will begin on the first day of school, Wednesday, August 12th. Please note there is a holiday on Friday, August 21 for Admissions Day.   

Thank you for your support and understanding as we plan for the new school year under these difficult circumstances. We are doing our best to make decisions that will ensure the health and safety of our students and staff. 





Update: July 15, 2020

Dear Ho`ala Families,

I hope this letter finds you well and you are enjoying these summer days.

I would like to update you on some of the safety policies and procedures we have planned for the new school year. More extensive information will be released closer to the first day of school. Honestly, I know this sounds a little scary, but we want to keep you informed and ensure the safety of our students and staff.

1.  Students will arrive by car and wait seated in their car until they are cleared to enter school. 

2.  Please roll down your child’s window on their side of the car as you are approaching the front office so that we can take their temperature. If your child is signed up for before school care, additional information will be provided at a later date. 

3.  Darlene or I will approach your car to take the temperature of the student/s. If your child has a temperature of 100* or higher, that is considered a fever and the child will remain in the car to go home. If your child/ren does not have a fever, we will then ask health screening questions. If cleared, we will have your child/ren use hand sanitizer and they will proceed on to campus. 

4.  Once on campus, students will go to their homeroom where their teacher will be waiting. We will be announcing the times for drop-off and dismissal. They will be staggered accordingly.

5.  Students may keep on their personal mask, or they may switch to a face shield. Their mask will stay on until the switch is made. 

6.  Desks in the classrooms will be placed 6’ apart and facing in the same direction. New tables have been purchased for K/1 students to ensure distancing.

7.  Windows and doors in classrooms will be open for ventilation.

8.  Specialty teachers, such as Spanish, art/drama, music, etc., will come to the classrooms to teach to decrease the risk of exposure.

9.  Hand sanitizer will be available at all times. We have checked the brands that we will use and they are NOT on the unsafe list from the CDC.

10. Signs will be posted throughout the school as a reminder to remain distanced. 

11. Students will be taught throughout the week on restroom procedures. Signs will be posted inside and outside of the restrooms as well.

12. When the students are at snack or lunch, they will face the same direction and be distanced 6’ apart. They will not be required to wear masks while eating. Once they finish, they will wash their hands and go on to play.

13. We have extended snack/recess and lunch/recess breaks to allow children to 

have more free play and socialization. Children will remain distanced with safety precautions in place.

14. Trash cans will not have lids and must be open to allow easy access without touching covers. 

15. No water dispensers will be available except for the water fountain. Children may fill up water bottles but they cannot drink directly from the fountain. We recommend that families send in several filled water bottles with their child/ren each morning.

16. Each child is required to have at least one extra mask and a change of clothing in their backpacks. 

Our before school orientation will be on Tuesday, August 4, at 6:00pm. More information will come out about that evening next week but for now, we plan to have it in person in the auditorium. Participants must enter through the front door where they will have a temperature check and answer health screening questions. The staff will be up on the stage and we will have seating at least 6’ apart for parents. 

Children are not permitted to attend orientation. We will not have child care available. We request that one parent attend orientation while the other stays home with your child/ren, unless you have home child care available. All participants must wear a mask or shield and remain physically distanced throughout the orientation.

Dr. Lucio (Leo) Pascua, a local pediatrician and our School Board President, will be in attendance to speak about his experience with COVID19. He will also be available to answer questions. Below is an article on his experience with COVID19 in case you missed it. He is a Wahiawa resident and works at the Wahiawa Health Clinic down the street. He has been instrumental in supporting us with the reopening of school.


On a personal note...my husband, David, and I returned to Hawaii last week and are currently in quarantine at home. I will be back into the office at the end of next week. Please call or write to me if you have any questions or concerns. 

You will be receiving a separate email survey asking for your input for reopening school. Please complete it by Monday, July 20.

I look forward to seeing our returning and new families soon! Please continue to stay healthy and safe!!

With much aloha,



Update: June 27, 2020

I hope you are well and continuing to staying safe.

I wanted to give you an update on what we know as far as the 2020/2021 school year. Please know that this information is constantly changing and we will not have all the answers until closer to the start of the school year.

As of today, our plan is to hold school on campus. We will have all the children in school every day as long as we deem it safe. We expect to begin school as scheduled on Wednesday, August 12. This will be a half day with a noon dismissal for all students. The regular dismissal time is at 2:30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and 1:00pm on Wednesdays.  

As you may know, there are various ideas and scenarios being discussed for school openings in the fall. Some of the public schools are talking about virtual only for upper elementary students and in school for lower elementary. Our plan is to have everyone here, every day. However, that could change. Our plan is that we will close if a student, staff member or family member is infected, and then we would go into virtual learning for a quarantine period of 14 days. Again, we are watching for updates and will adjust accordingly, but currently our plan is to have children here every day, all day, while maintaining physical distancing, masks or shields, with hand washing protocols in place, disinfecting high touch surfaces, etc. Lots of changes in the upcoming year but we are working diligently to be ensure everyone's safety.

On a personal note, it's been a crazy month here in the Mainland. Bottom line up front: we're all okay. However, four days after we returned to Alabama from my father's funeral in South Carolina, we were informed that my 7yo nephew tested Covid positive. (He got it from his asymptomatic babysitter, who got it from her asymptomatic roommates.) Our son, Matthew, and I had been feeling kind of off for a few days and thought it was allergies. With this news, we all immediately got tested. Matthew and I found out two days later that we also had Covid. My husband, David, and son, Aaron, and his girlfriend tested negative. We rushed Aaron out of the house to live in his girlfriend's school apartment to keep them safe. (They retested and remain negative.) Later in the week we got word that my brother and his wife (parents of my nephew) were also Covid positive. We all had mild to moderate symptoms. We're all doing great with a little residual cough and runny nose. Our mandatory quarantine ended Thursday.

I'm telling you this in detail because even though we were extremely cautious, we still contracted Covid. We were so careful that my siblings and I didn't even hug when our dad died or at his funeral. I did, however, hug and comfort my little nephew. He was having anxiety over the virus (they hear more than we think!) and I didn't think twice when he was having a hard time going to sleep one night and I snuggled with him as we talked about his anxiety. I have no regrets. He needed me and I did exactly what I would have done with my own children. The lesson here is that this proves how crazy this virus is. The five us us are very lucky to have had relatively mild symptoms compared to what we could have had. We're all very thankful!

Keeping this in mind, I am adamant that I do not want any of my students, staff, or their families to go through what my family has gone through. Please know that I am committed to keeping everyone safe at our school. Darlene and I are working diligently to ensure we are up to date on all CDC requirements and recommendations. We will do what we think is best for you all. That you have our promise.

Please continue to stay healthy and safe.

With Much Aloha,



Update: June 8, 2020

Dear Ho`ala `Ohana, 

Some of you may have already read on Facebook, but we wanted to let you know that it is with our deepest sorrow that we are inform you of the death of Phyllis' father on June 2, 2020. Phyllis has given me permission to share this information with you. She was able to be by his side along with two of her siblings when he peacefully passed in his sleep.  A small family memorial service was held last Friday. 

If you would like to send an email to Phyllis, please feel free to do so.  

Please continue to stay safe and healthy and do not hesitate to contact me. 

Take care, 



Update: April 16, 2020

Aloha Ho`ala Ohana!

I hope this email finds you well and looking forward to the weekend. Now that we're ending Week 3, I see that you are in the swing of things and becoming more settled in Distance Learning.

Here are a few reminders...

  • In an effort to keep your child's learning environment consistent with our philosophy, we will continue to use the Agreement System during Zoom, FaceTime, phone calls, etc. If someone is not being respectful, unsupportive, disruptive, or arrives to class late or leaves early without permission, they will receive a Broken Agreement. Continuous disruption will lead to the child not being invited to the class and they will not receive credit for that day.
  • For Grades 3-8, please make sure that ALL assignments are turned in through Google Classroom. Assignments turned in otherwise will not be graded. Also, if your child is submitting a photograph of their work through Google Classroom, I encourage them to look at it carefully. If it appears blurry to them, it also appears blurry to the faculty. No credit will be given to work that is challenging to read. (Hint, please take the photos close up. Many submissions are taken too far away and cannot be read.)
  • Work submitted late will receive the same point deduction as if we were on campus.
  • All students are still receiving grades for their work and participation just as they would in school. Report cards will go out on June 1, just as they always do, and work now will be reflected on their grades for Quarter 4.

As of this writing, we do not know the status of Summer School. It is most likely it will not occur, but we'll keep you posted on any updates. 

We are currently planning for the 2020-2021 School Year and your input is extremely important. It's imperative we know your intentions so we can plan for the new school year. Darlene will send out a Sign Up Genius appointment form soon with available slots for phone calls next week. We look forward to speaking with all of you soon. 

Thank you for your kind words and wishes to Carolyn during this particularly difficult time. She is in constant contact with her family and England and still going through a very sad time. I'm sure your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes are appreciated!

Thank you for your continued support of your children, our faculty and staff, and of Ho`ala School. Please stay safe and keep healthy.

Much Aloha,



Update: April 3, 2020

Aloha Ho`ala Ohana!

Please allow me to speak from my heart for just a minute. While we knew having to close the school because Covid-19 was a possibility, dealing with the reality has been emotional. We began preparing as we sincerely hoped that this would not become a reality. However, sadly it has. So now we move forward by planning for the worst and praying for the best.

All in all, I have heard that Week 1 of virtual learning went well. We asked for your feedback and we are taking your advice to implement some improvements. Right now we just don’t know how long this will last. While I do not have all the answers today, I will tell you what we do know…

- We know that many of our students live in homes with parents that work full time, some in an office and some at home. 

- We know that many parents have multiple children in multiple grades. 

- We know that you are likely worried and scared. 

- We know that you might not know how to do your child’s math, or language arts, or Spanish, or social studies. (It’s ok. I promise.) 

- We know that this virus is in our country, our state, and in our community. 

- We know that although your child’s education is extremely important to us all, that it is not more important than our students lives and the lives of their families and teachers. 

Thank you for giving us a bit of time to grieve the loss of our classroom families by extending Spring Break. I promise you that we are heart broken and we needed more time. You see, we love your children and we actually enjoy going to work every day and seeing their sweet faces. But now, watch us go to work even harder. Watch us serve our Ho`ala School children and families to the best of our ability. Watch us play the hand we’ve been dealt. Watch us do what we do best…educate and nurture your children. We are teachers. That’s what we do. Allow us to continue to show kindness and grace. Together with your continued support and trust, we’ve got this. I promise.

Please continue to stay safe and healthy!

With Much Aloha,



Update: May 8, 2020

Dear Ho`ala Ohana,

I hope you are all doing well and staying healthy during this very unsettled and uncertain time with the COVID-19 situation. We, at Ho`ala continue to follow and monitor the US Federal policy, guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Hawaii State Department of Health as to the status of the COVID-19  in Hawaii.

A few weeks ago I called you to inform you that we would start our distance learning programs with the hope that we could return to school soon. On March 30, we implemented the Ho`ala Distance Learning Plan. With the current state and situation of the COVID-19 in Hawaii, Ho`ala will extend our distance learning plan and school closure through the end of the school year, which is aligned to our State of Hawaii’s Stay at Home order. 

Additionally, we have postponed our Keiki Summer School Program. We will notify you if/when we decide the Summer Program will be offered.  If you have questions regarding Summer School, please contact Darlene Dela Cruz, Admissons Director at (808) 621-1898, or click on the link below for information and application form:  http://hoalaschool.org/announcement/keiki-summer-school-2020-application-now-available 

This being said, much will depend on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On behalf of Ho`ala School’s faculty and staff, I wholeheartedly thank you for your dedication, commitment, loyalty, and belief in our very special school. We will always put the health and safety of our students, families, faculty and staff first as our highest priority.  

Take care, stay safe, and keep healthy!

With a Warm Aloha,

Phyllis Norton, M.Ed.

Head of School



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