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The number of coronavirus cases in the state’s public schools continues to rise as the Department of Education reported 557 new cases from staff or students last week on Friday.
Infections have risen steadily across the state since the school year began on August 3. The total number of school-related COVID-19 cases last week was 383 – up from 325 the week before.
In total, there have been 1,570 public school-related cases in Hawaii since July 1.
Despite the growing number, DOE officials insist that schools remain safe for students, teachers, and staff. They said the department is not aware of any cases of students contracting COVID-19 in school and there is no evidence of clusters on any of the campuses.
“As cases increase in the broader community, we are seeing a similar increase in cases in our schools,” said interim school principal Keith Hayashi in a letter to parents on Thursday. “It is important to note that, unlike the community diffusion, our data shows that the campus diffusion was very limited.”
Campbell High School in Ewa Beach, with the largest enrollment in the state, has led the way with 52 cases since the department began mandatory reporting in early July.
Waipahu High School has the second most common infections at 36, followed by Kapolei (34), Farrington (30), Kahului Elementary (29) and Hilo High School (29).
Only 23 of the department’s 257 schools have escaped the virus, including Honolulu’s Washington Middle School, Nanakuli Elementary, Lanai High & Elementary, Kaunakakai Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate, Honouliuli Middle, and Aina Haina Elementary.
DOE spokeswoman Nanea Kalani said the number of quarantined students is not being tracked system-wide. The department, she said, is only tracking confirmed and probable cases while schools independently manage their quarantined students.
The department also unveiled an interactive dashboard on their website on Friday that shows confirmed COVID-19 case data compiled in their schools and offices.
Hayashi said the dashboard was designed with parents in mind and as part of a drive to be more transparent.
“We encourage everyone to look at the data for themselves and see what we see – that schools are not amplifiers of COVID-19 transmission because schools are enforcing containment protocols,” Hayashi said in a press release.
The dashboard lists confirmed and likely COVID-19 case information from the state, county, complex area, and school levels. Case numbers are displayed after the reported date and as a cumulative running total since July 1st.
The dashboard also includes the date each case was reported to the department and the date the person who tested positive was last on campus.
The largest daily reporting of infections, according to the data, came on Monday with 170 cases reported by 93 schools. That exceeded the previous high of 108 cases reported by 70 schools on August 16.
Data is updated Monday through Friday (excluding bank holidays) daily before close of business at bit.ly/hidoe-covid-updates, officials said, with daily case numbers reflecting confirmed cases reported the previous day.
The dashboard reporting system is expected to replace the Friday releases of the department’s weekly case reports, they said.