Kids who miss school because of officially directed quarantine or isolation from Covid-19 will have their absences marked as “excused” under an updated attendance policy from the state Department of Education.
Students who are sick, recently tested positive for the coronavirus or had potential exposure to someone else who did must quarantine for 10 days and get tested three to five days after exposure, according to the DOE’s health and safety handbook.
Schools previously had no mechanism to note that a student had to stay home due to quarantine or isolation at the direction of school leaders. That left kids vulnerable to a potentially long string of unexcused absences that could lead down the path toward truancy or even chronic absenteeism.
The DOE offered clarity in a Sept. 15 memo issued jointly by the office of student support services, office of information technology and the office of strategy, innovation and performance.
“A new attendance code has been created … for schools to use for students who are absent due to state-direct quarantine or isolation,” it said.
“Our hope was that this guidance would include multiple scenarios on how and why students would be quarantined, and what the learning expectations would be,” said HawaiiKidsCAN executive director David Miyashiro.
“Overall, parents deserve reassurance that their kids will continue learning and receiving support from their schools in case they voluntarily quarantine or are required to do so, and it is concerning that the Hawaii DOE’s memo from September 15 lacks the level of detail that families should expect,” he added.