Hawaii Department of Health guidelines for reopening schools recommend wearing masks indoors, regardless of immunization status

  • STAR ADVERTISER / FEB.  28, 2020 Dr Sarah Kemble, Hawaii Department of Health Epidemiologist

    STAR ADVERTISER / FEB. 28, 2020

    Dr Sarah Kemble, Hawaii Department of Health Epidemiologist

The Department of Health’s updated COVID-19 guidelines for reopening schools recommend that all teachers and students wear masks in school this year, regardless of their immunization status.

The new departmental guidelines, which have been updated, allow for a full in-person reopening of school campuses in recognition of the toll that online learning has taken many students over the past year.

Acting state epidemiologist Sarah Kemble said the guidelines focus on promoting vaccinations for students and staff, testing for COVID-19, keeping students 3 feet from one of the other where possible and increased ventilation of classrooms.

Currently, vaccinations are only allowed for children 12 years of age and older.

The mask guidelines call on all students, teachers and staff to wear masks indoors, as well as in crowded situations outdoors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July issued guidelines that these masks are only needed indoors by people who are not fully vaccinated.

Ministry of Health guidelines say, “As we learned more about COVID-19 and schools, it became clear that schools are not, as originally intended, amplifiers of COVID-19 transmission. . Although clusters of COVID-19 have occurred in schools, several studies have shown that school-based transmission rates are generally lower or similar to levels of transmission in the community when multi-level prevention strategies are in place. . “

Health officials said schools should consider screening tests for all teachers and staff who have not been fully immunized, regardless of the level of community transmission.

The guidelines also include screening tests for those who are not fully immunized to facilitate participation in sports and other activities with a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19.

Hawaii public school students return to class on August 3.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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