The Hawaii Board of Education on Thursday rejected a proposal by the state education department to establish a statewide virtual school for students in grades K-12, citing a lack of specificity in how the plan would be implemented.
The DOE requires the board’s approval before it can move forward with the proposal.
The plan called for spending $5.4 million in the 2022-23 school year to establish a virtual school that would serve roughly 774 students across the state. The school would be an expansion of an existing statewide distance learning program that was quickly assembled at the start of the 2021-22 academic year and currently enrolls 500 students.
Calls from students and parents for online learning rose sharply during the Covid-19 pandemic, driven largely by health and safety concerns. Other families said their kids did better in an online learning environment.
Some community advocates urged the DOE to be more flexible and offer virtual school for all kids in extenuating circumstances, as some mainland schools do during inclement weather known as “snow days.”
“We should leverage the virtual school to ensure that no student has to miss instruction for an extended period of time due to life or community circumstances,” HawaiiKidsCAN Executive Director David Miyashiro said in written testimony.