Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Hawaii schools superintendent says students' COVID-19 vaccine should be voluntary, 100+ legislators head to Maui conference despite pandemic, Hawaii National Guardsman, 52, dies from coronavirus, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Department of Education
Hawaii Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto

Hawaii DOE Optimistic Students Will Return To Class In January.
In a briefing with legislators, school leaders said they were also encouraged by the low rate of teacher vacancies during the pandemic. Civil Beat.

Should a COVID-19 vaccine be required for students to attend school? State superintendent says it should be “personal choice." The House Higher and Lower Education Committee held a meeting with the Department of Education (DOE) Tuesday to discuss a number of issues, including whether a blanket decision about learning modes should be implemented and if a COVID-19 vaccine should be required for students. KHON2.

State House committee discusses several COVID-related topics with DOE officials. State Superintendent of Education Christina Kishimoto said that as public schools hope to move to full in-person instruction at some point during the second semester this school year, more than 90% of the students in grades K-12 statewide are receiving at least a portion of their classes virtually. Tribune-Herald.

Pay boost attracts more special-education teachers in Hawaii. The teacher shortage eased in Hawaii’s public schools this fall, propelled in part by a $10,000 annual pay boost for special-education teachers that went into effect in January. Star-Advertiser.

DOE reports that more of its teachers are moving into Special Education. The DOE reported on Tuesday that more of its teachers are moving into Special Ed and more teachers already in Special Ed are staying put. The position comes with shortage differential pay of $10K on top of a teacher's salary. KITV4.

There’s a new tool to help Hawaii students plan for their future career. Most good-paying jobs require a post-secondary credential, like a college degree or an industry-recognized certificate. Now, a first-of-its-kind analysis called Promising Credentials in Hawaii is pinpointing which of those credentials matter most to Hawaii employers. Hawaii News Now.


Mainland COVID-19 surge leaves would-be Hawaii travelers scrambling to find available tests. The recent spike in coronavirus cases on the U.S. mainland is making it harder for visitors to fly to ― and residents to return to ― Hawaii. With more than 100,000 new cases reported daily nationwide, many of Hawaii’s trusted partners ― the pharmacies, diagnostic labs and clinics that provide tests for travelers to Hawaii ― are having trouble keeping up with demand for the tests. Hawaii News Now.

COVID-positive pre-arrival results are a blind spot for Hawaii travel program. The state tells Always Investigating they can’t make their trusted testing partners tell them which out-of-state travelers came up positive on a pre-arrival test. Only a few dozen people have self-reported positives since the Safe Travels program began last month. KHON2.


Hawaii National Guard loses its first member to coronavirus. A 52-year-old airman, who tested positive earlier in the week and died Sunday, was a part-time reservist assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Star-Advertiser.

A pilot who was in Hawaii to celebrate the anniversary of the end of WWII has died of COVID-19. One of the pilots who was in Hawaii to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II has died of COVID-19. KITV4.

Public health expert says new statewide mask mandate still has a loophole. The new statewide mask mandate issued Monday eliminates some confusion by having the same exceptions for all counties. But some people say it’s not much better because certain provisions make it hard to enforce. KHON2.

DOH: Reporting of new COVID-19 cases will remain two days behind, with lack of resources to blame.  Hawaii’s reported coronavirus case count numbers will continue to be delayed, with each day’s release from the Department of Health representative of the COVID-19 laboratory test results returned a full two days prior, officials said Tuesday. That means the 53 new cases reported Tuesday are actually Sunday’s totals. Hawaii News Now.

VIRUS TRACKER — Nov. 17: 53 New COVID-19 Cases. Fifty-three new COVID-19 cases were reported statewide on Tuesday, including 37 on Oahu, six on the Big Island and two on Maui. Eight cases were among Hawaii residents diagnosed out-of-state. Civil Beat.


Mayor Kirk Caldwell: Rail cost now $11B, won’t be completed until 2033. Honolulu’s financially troubled rail project will cost up to $1.1 billion more and not be completed until 2033, eight years longer than now projected, according to estimates that are part of a preliminary plan Mayor Kirk Caldwell and other city officials sent Friday to the Federal Transit Administration. Star-Advertiser.

Here’s How One Honolulu Cop Got His Job Back After He Was Fired For Misconduct. Ofc. William Suarez crashed his car and fled the scene of the accident. He was fired but an arbitrator sided with the police union and gave him his job back. Civil Beat.

Oceanfront property tied to Obama granted exemption from Hawaii’s environmental laws. Officials in Honolulu have granted the developers of a luxury, oceanfront estate tied to Barack Obama a major exemption from environmental laws designed to protect Hawaii’s beaches. Star-Advertiser.

City Strives To Keep Transit Safe As More Bus Drivers Test Positive For COVID-19. Most of the drivers’ positive tests were attributed to factors outside of work. Three drivers, however, have filed workers’ compensation claims. Civil Beat.

New Ewa Beach housing project provides dozens of affordable rentals to residents. There are 318 apartments for lease ― including 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units ― starting at about $1,500. About 60 of those units are deemed “affordable” and are reserved for people making less than 80% of the area median income. Hawaii News Now.

Homeless project to welcome new residents. The first occupants will move into the city’s new Punawai Rest Stop studio apartments in Iwilei around Thanksgiving, months ahead of schedule, offering outgoing Mayor Kirk Caldwell and outgoing City Councilman Joey Manahan an opportunity to bookend their five-year-long partnership to reduce homelessness. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian blessing marks full completion of a rest stop providing homeless services. A blessing on Tuesday marked the completion of Construction at Punawai Hale and Rest Stop in Iwilei. The former garment factory has actually been open for two years now, and its helped more than 2,500 people struggling with homelessness. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

‘A top priority’: Mass Transit hopes to get donated buses rolling next month. Mass Transit Administrator Brenda Carreira hopes to have 10 minibuses donated from Honolulu running routes next month on Hawaii Island. West Hawaii Today.

Council committee advances bill that would close part of Waipio Valley Road to foot traffic. The Public Works and Mass Transit Committee on Tuesday unanimously voted to move to the full council a bill that would close to foot traffic a portion of the steep, one-lane road from the Waipio Valley lookout to the valley floor. Tribune-Herald.

NELHA Science Park In Kona Reopens To Public Tours. The Keahole Center for Sustainability restarts public tours at NELHA’s Hawai‘i Ocean and Science Technology Park on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Big Island Video News.

HOPE Services Hawaii receives $131K in CARES act funding to expand telehealth, broadband service. The nonprofit's project will facilitate immediate access to primary and specialty care via telehealth and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots for the homeless population on Hawaii Island. Pacific Business News.


Legislators’ Maui meeting undergoes pandemic travel backlash.
The four-day event, which includes legislators from California, Texas and Washington, is taking place this week at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea. Critics say the IVP event, which generally includes policy discussions and schmoozing with corporate sponsors, was ill-timed. Some critics are bashing politicians who are attending an annual conference on Maui hosted by the nonprofit Independent Voter Project. Star-Advertiser.

100+ Flying to Maui for Pandemic Political Conference. The Independent Voter Project's yearly conference on Maui is scaled back this year, but is currently happening on Maui. The organization admitted it booked roughly 50 rooms for around 120 guests this week at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea. KITV4.

Charges Dropped in Maui Protests Over Burial Protections. Maui County has dropped all charges related to protests over construction on known historic burial grounds in Kaua’ula Valley. Five native Hawaiian women with familial ties to the area on Maui’s west end have been refunded their bail and are calling for a halt to the project after human remains were uncovered. Hawaii Public Radio.

Protesters say that charges against them were dropped. Five Lahaina women who stood in a trench in protest over a waterline project said Monday that charges against them have been dropped and their bail refunded. Maui News.

Water use plan could be delayed to 2021. A council committee recommended Monday to push by six months the deadline for the council to adopt updates to the Maui Island Water Use Development Plan. Maui News.


Survey: County employees efficient. In a recent survey of county employees, County of Kaua‘i Managing Director Michael Dahilig said only two to three are not currently meeting productivity standards set by the county. Garden Island.

Nakamura chairs House Housing Committee. Two of Kaua‘i’s state representatives will hold influential leadership roles in the upcoming 2021 legislative session, with Rep. Dee Morikawa continuing as the majority floor leader and Rep. Nadine K. Nakamura elevated to chair of the Committee on Housing. Garden Island.


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