PUHI — Kaua‘i Community College will extend its distance-learning model that opened the spring semester until Jan. 31.
That announcement was made by the University of Hawai‘i via an email to students, faculty and staff of the 10-campus UH system on Tuesday.
“On Dec. 28, we announced that many courses were moved online because of the surge in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant,” said UH President David Lassner in the announcement.
“While we are cautiously optimistic that COVID-19 hospitalizations in Hawai‘i are starting to plateau, we experienced the highest case count of the pandemic Tuesday and believe that it is prudent to allow the online shift to continue to one extra week. We do not expect to revisit the Jan. 31 restart date, which is consistent with many other higher-education institutions,” he said.
Lassner encouraged people to use this additional week as an opportunity to get one’s booster shot if eligible.
“Our COVID-19 advisory team of UH medical and public-health professionals with campus leaders from across the system considered this decision very carefully,” Lassner said.
“We believe that Hawai‘i is at a turning point as the COVID-19 pandemic moves towards endemicity and we learn to live with the virus. For most of us, this change is ultimately a welcome step forward. However, this transition is also causing anxiety, and requires adjustment for many in our community,” Lassner said.
“We believe that providing this clear direction of our plan for one additional week online, while urging that everyone eligible get their booster shot, will best move us all forward together,” he said.
Booster shots are widely available at pharmacies throughout the state, and administrative leave is available for employees, he said. Per the most-recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, getting a booster to bring one’s vaccination status “up to date” is the only way to avoid quarantine if exposed.
The CDC has stated that people are considered to be up-to-date immediately upon receiving the booster shot, which has proven effective in reducing transmission, hospitalizations and deaths.
“All classes presently meeting in-person should continue to do so,” Lassner said.
“Essential programs and services for students and employees will continue to be accessible in-person as well as online. Faculty who are teaching classes online now that are scheduled to meet in-person can opt to begin in-person instruction on Jan. 24 with no formal approval required. However, these faculty need to contact their students as soon as possible to provide information about how students who cannot attend classes or may have delayed their return to campus can participate.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.