Head of School December Update

December 30th, 2021

Aloha Ho`ala `Ohana,

On behalf of the Ho`ala Board of Directors, the faculty, and staff, we wish you and all your loved ones a happy and healthy New Year and thank all those families who have graciously and generously donated through Ho`ala’s annual appeal.  We would be extremely grateful if you would pass along information about our fundraising effort to members of your extended family so they too can join in supporting the school.  With your continued support, we look forward to a great second half of the school year. 

There has been some concern expressed regarding the new COVID-19 variant and the rising number of positive cases. As a result, I wish to provide our families with an update regarding resuming classes on Tuesday, January 4th.  

First, I wish to thank all the parents, grandparents, and legal guardians who supported their children during Ho`ala’s vaccination clinic.  I am happy to report that 83% of the children have received their vaccination.  The Board and administration continue to abide by the policy requiring all eligible individuals, adults and children, to get vaccinated but no date has been set regarding mandating the vaccine or negative COVID-19 test for the children.   However, Dr. Elizabeth Char, Director of the Hawai’i Department of Health, recently wrote “The presence of the Omicron variant makes getting vaccinated just as important today as ever.”  As a result, we continue to encourage parents to speak with their pediatrician, research the childhood vaccine, and do what they believe is in the best interest of their child or children.

Second, we continue to carefully monitor the surge in positive COVID-19 cases.  We have seen the numbers rise from a couple hundred to over three thousand in just a few short weeks While this is very concerning, we are relieved to see that the number of people hospitalized has not risen in proportion to the rise in positive cases.  As a result, we are planning to resume in-person instruction on Tuesday the 4th, running our regular program with no exceptions.  Our before and after-school programs will also be operating a normal schedule, 6:00 AM opening and 5:30 PM closing for Ho`ala Plus. 

Third, at this time, as we begin our second semester, there is no change in Ho`ala’s COVID-19 Protocols.  We will continue to practice a layered prevention strategy that will include the following elements:    

  • Promote COVID-19 vaccination among all eligible individuals (adults and children);
  • Faculty, staff, and students, are to stay home when sick and provide a doctor's note clearing them to return to school; 
  • Continue the correct and consistent wearing of masks, indoors and outside (except when eating or drinking);
  • Practice good hand/health hygiene (wash hands frequently);
  • Continue to place students in separate cohorts (Kindergarten, 1st/2nd, 3rd/4th, and 5th/6th);
  • Practice physical distancing (3' to 6’);
  • Keep the classroom windows open for improved ventilation; and
  • Continue health screening in the morning (temperature check at drop-off). 

Fourth, below is the Hawai'i Department of Health's newly revised isolation and quarantine policy for your review.  Please note that the Department of Health is making a distinction between those who are and those who are not vaccinated with respect to isolating and quarantining.   

Fifth, at Ho`ala, we have the capability to administer, with the permission of the parent or legal guardian, a COVID-19 test.  The tests have been provided through the Hawai’i Association of Independent Schools in conjunction with PerkinElmer and Color at no cost to the parent/legal guardian or the school.  The results are returned within 48 hours of the test being administered. 

Finally, I know I speak for the entire Ho`ala community when I express our deep desire to return to those activities and events (Gatherings, field trips, Reading Buddies, etc.) that mark Ho`ala as a unique and special place.  I believe with patience and perseverance, we will get there.  I want to thank our families and the faculty and staff for pulling together to ensure the health and safety of all the children.  These are challenging times but by working together, I am confident that the second semester will be as great if not greater, than the first semester. 

Warmest regards,

Chris

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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

DAVID Y. IGE GOVERNOR

ELIZABETH A. CHAR, MD DIRECTOR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 29, 2021 21-191

DOH revises state’s isolation & quarantine policy

HONOLULU – The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) is revising the state’s COVID-19 isolation and quarantine policies to closely align with recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These changes are effective Monday, January 3, 2022 for all DOH directed isolation and quarantine.

If COVID-19 positive regardless of vaccination status

• Isolate for at least 5 days and until symptoms are gone.

• Continue to wear a mask for five days after isolation.

If exposed to COVID-19

A. Boosted, or fully vaccinated within past six months (or within past 2 months if J&J)

- No need to quarantine

- Wear a mask for ten days

- Get tested on day five

B. Neither boosted nor fully vaccinated

- Quarantine for five days

- Wear a mask for five days after quarantine

- Get tested on day five

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, even mild symptoms, should stay home from work, school and other activities. Those with symptoms who have not been tested should be tested as soon as possible.

“We are adopting the CDC recommendations as one part of effort our to blunt the current very rapid spread of the Omicron variant. These guidelines are practical to implement, making it easier for people to do the right thing. The guidance also acknowledges the waning immunity

we are seeing with time after initial vaccination,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble. “There is still much we do not know about transmission dynamics of the Omicron variant. We will continue to follow the science. We should all anticipate that guidance may continue to evolve in the coming weeks as we learn more.”

“The new policies underscore the benefits of booster shots. People who are boosted and do not have symptoms will not need to quarantine after exposure to someone who is COVID positive,” said Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char, FACEP. “Mask wearing is a key part of the updated guidance. We know how important masks are in reducing the spread of COVID-19.”

While the revised guidance is effective Monday, January 3, 2022, it will take some time to update printed and online material.

Vaccination and testing options are available at hawaiicovid19.com.

 

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