Punahou Health Response

Select Key Pandemic Measures

O‘ahu Daily Cases

O‘ahu New Cases 7-Day Average

O‘ahu Test Positivity 7-Day Average

O‘ahu Case Count

O‘ahu Test Positivity

* Data is updated as it becomes available. Confirmed testing numbers are posted by the State up to 48 hours later than case data.

School Community

Kindergarten – Grade 5

  • Compliance with the Daily Health Check-in App continues to be high at 88%. There were no elevated temperatures among students arriving at school this week.
  • We did not have any notifications from individuals who have been exposed to or were infected by COVID-19. There were no known exposure incidents on campus this week.

Updated Apr. 16, 2021

Grades 6 – 8

  • In this division, 86% of students completed the Daily Health Check-in. No students arrived at campus with an elevated temperature.
  • Nobody in CMS reported a close contact with or infection of COVID-19 this week. There were no known exposure incidents on campus.

Updated Apr. 16, 2021
 

Academy

  • Of all Academy students, 81% completed the Daily Health Check-in. We did not detect elevated temperatures from any students arriving to campus.
  • This week we had one exposure incident on campus that led to the notification and quarantine of ten members of our community. In addition, two other individuals were exposed to someone infected with COVID-19. All affected individuals are quarantining at home and continue to be asymptomatic.

Updated Apr. 16, 2021

Weekly Health Update

April 16, 2021

Over the last 3 weeks, O‘ahu case numbers have remained steady at a 7-day average of 56 (as of April 16) and test positivity at 2%. We are encouraged that the trend in case numbers has not risen sharply. This suggests that increasing vaccination coverage, test availability, and the Health department’s efforts to conduct contact tracing continue to be important tools in controlling community transmission. However, we are watchful for the impact of more transmissible strains of the virus outpacing these prevention efforts. 

In our own community, we had an exposure incident on campus over the weekend that involved ten individuals. Another two individuals reported being in close contact with someone infected off-campus. All of the affected members of our community are safely quarantining at home and continue to be symptom free. We have no reports of these exposures resulting in transmission on campus. 

The current COVID alert level remains YELLOW (Moderate). We ask our community to actively seek out opportunities to be vaccinated as Honolulu moves into Phase 2 of vaccine distribution next week. Appointments are now available to those 16 years and older at a number of sites. Please check the HPH website for appointments and the CDC vaccine finder. As our state pursues higher full vaccination coverage, we urge everyone to continue to follow national and local safety guidelines. 
 
Mahalo,
The Pandemic Response Team


List of 2 items.

  • Return to Campus: Junior School

  • Return to Campus: Academy

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Message from the President's Office

Updated October 6, 2020
 
Dear Punahou Families,

We have good news to share. Our Pandemic Response Team continues to observe a decline in the average daily number of new COVID-19 cases over a 7-day period. Currently, that number on Oʻahu stands at 75 (as of Oct. 5), a level that, taken together with a test positivity rate under 5%, allows us to safely reopen campus on Oct. 13. We greatly look forward to welcoming children back to Kapunahou.

To support the successful transition back to campus and ensure the stability of health conditions within our school community, Punahou will operate in the Orange (Heightened) alert level for at least the first two weeks of our return to campus, from Oct. 13 – 23. We will use these two weeks to see if the numbers continue to move in the right direction, thereby allowing us to transition to the Yellow (Moderate) alert level, or if we will remain in Orange for a more sustained period of time.

What this means for on-campus learners:
Oct. 13 – 16
  • All students who are returning to campus will commence with a half-on/half-off reorientation week schedule that will be shared by your child’s Dean.
Oct. 19 – 23
  • Kindergarten: All on-campus learners will be in school for a half-day on Oct. 19. Full days begin Oct. 20.
  • Grades 1 – 5: All on-campus learners will be in school for full days with their cohorts on campus beginning on Oct. 19.
  • Grades 6 – 8: Students in Case Middle School will follow an alternating schedule of one week on campus/one week at home. This alternating schedule will remain in effect while the School is in the Orange alert level and will switch to instruction on campus every day once we are able to transition to Yellow. (NOTE: The CMS schedule in the Orange alert level is designed to address the unique challenges posed by the physical structure of the team spaces and student population. It ensures smaller cohort sizes that align with the overall safety precautions of the rest of the School.)
  • Kindergarten – Grade 8: Students are allowed on campus from 7:30 a.m. until 30 minutes past their dismissal times, and families can opt for After School Care (Kindergarten – Grade 5) or After School Study Hall (Grades 6 – 8) until 5:30 p.m. for a fee.
  • Academy: Students will be able to come to campus every day with semester courses online and block courses taking place in person. Based on their individual course schedule, students are only required to be on campus for their in-person block courses, and can arrive later or leave earlier as their online semester courses allow. We are allowing all students to be on campus 7:45 a.m. – 4 p.m. if it is necessary for them.
  • Additional information regarding your child’s schedule will come from their Teachers and Deans.
What this means for at-home learners:
Oct. 13 – 16
  • At-home learning orientation (for families who have already selected the At-Home option)
  • Kindergarten – Grade 5: At-home learners begin their transition to At-Home learning during the week of Oct. 13
  • Grades 6 – 8: At-home learners will continue to follow their Buff and Blue schedules from home.
  • Academy: At-home learners will continue with remote learning as planned for the week of Oct. 13 and beyond.
Oct. 19 – 23
  • At-home learning continues as scheduled.
Looking Ahead
Over the next two weeks, we will continue to monitor health conditions on Oʻahu to determine if the trendline continues to improve. We remain hopeful that we will be able to transition to the Yellow alert level by the week of Oct. 26, but are prepared should we remain in a sustained Orange. For the latest information, including up-to-date metrics on our online health dashboard, please visit punahou.edu/health.

As always, thank you for your continued focus on the health and education of your children. We are delighted to be reopening our campus on Oct. 13.

With aloha,
 
Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86

Emily McCarren, Ph.D.
Academy Principal

Paris Priore-Kim, Ed.D. ’76
Junior School Principal

Pandemic Response Team

Across our School, teachers, staff, parents and students have demonstrated extraordinary resilience in adapting to new and often challenging conditions. As health conditions continue to steadily improve in Hawai‘i and businesses and schools prepare to reopen, we look forward to once again welcoming students, faculty and staff back to our beautiful campus.

Our planning effort has been guided by the thoughtful work of the Pandemic Response Team, a task force composed of faculty and staff representing the entire K – 12 campus:

  • James Kakos, Academy Assistant Principal,
    (Co-Chair)
  • Virginia Loo, Director of Analytics and Planning,
    (Co-Chair)
  • Pauline Bailey, Senior Director of Human Resources
  • Jim LaClair, Chief Information Officer
  • Todd Funasaki, Director of Technology Services
  • Robert Gelber, Director of Communications
  • Tony Tran, Associate Director, Human Resources
  • Cheryl Prather, Associate Director of Communications
  • Charlotte Kamikawa, Director of Physical Plant
  • Jon Koshiba, Academy Dean
  • Denise Hoke, Assistant Treasurer
  • Shige Minami, Infrastructure Technology Director
  • Anna Liem, Academy Academic Services Coordinator
  • Chase Mitsuda, Junior School Assistant Principal
  • Sally Mingarelli, Academy Assistant Principal
  • Todd Chow-Hoy, Junior School Assistant Principal
  • Darryl Funai, Interim Head Athletic Trainer
  • Trisha Caley, Academy Special Terms Director
  • Reet Ashford-Hirano, Academy Dean
  • Andy Nelson, Outdoor Education Coordinator
  • Erika Buder-Nakasone, Executive Assistant, Athletics Department

Past Notices

List of 46 items.

  • April 9, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    This week, pandemic conditions remain at similar levels as last week. The 7-day average of daily cases on O‘ahu was 56 (as of April 9) and test positivity hovers around 2%. Although vaccine coverage continues to grow, particularly among those most vulnerable to severe COVID disease, the COVID related hospitalization rate shows an increasing trend. Recent reports provided by the State Health Department acknowledge school and club sports activities as a source of some clusters of infection statewide. This is a pattern also observed across the country which has been associated with new more transmissible variants of the virus. Social gatherings and eating at restaurants have also been associated with clusters in Honolulu. 

    In our own community, this week we received notifications from five individuals of an infection or exposure to someone infected. We are closely monitoring the health of these individuals while they safely quarantine at home. We are pleased that they all continue to be healthy. We are also glad to report that we continue to have no evidence of on-campus exposures.

    The current Punahou COVID alert level remains Yellow (Moderate), and we continue to watch for signs that the more transmissible variant of COVID-19 is impacting community transmission. While Honolulu has not shifted to a higher level of restriction as called for by the county tier system, we encourage our community to consider adjusting their social activities to adhere more closely to Tier 2 levels. In particular, we recommend reducing indoor gatherings with non-household members to under 5 people, and avoiding large gatherings or crowded venues. If quarantining, please avoid social gatherings all together until after your quarantine period is over. And, finally, please remember to continue to use the Daily Health Check-in app each morning. It is an important tool that helps us to accurately monitor the health of our school community.
  • April 1, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    As we continue to monitor pandemic conditions, it is clear that O‘ahu is undergoing a sustained swell of new COVID-19 cases. Prior to Spring Break, the 7-day average of new cases was 27 and it is now 56 (as of April 1). Although vaccination rates continue to increase in the state, the presence of newer, more transmissible variants continues to present challenges to our ability to maintain low levels of infection. According to the Health Department, many of the clusters being investigated among Honolulu cases are related to social gatherings, and this underscores the importance of continuing to adhere to safety measures. 

    In addition, over the last week of break and into this week, we were notified of 8 different exposure events affecting our community and resulting in the need for individuals to quarantine. As far as we know, there have not been any on-campus exposures related to these events, but we will continue to monitor these situations carefully. So far, the members of our community who are infected or exposed remain at home and continue to be healthy. We have also cleared nearly 300 students who returned from out-of-state travel during Spring Break. We greatly appreciate the partnership of our families in doing their best to follow our health policy and keep our campus safe. 

    Because of these factors, we are now in the YELLOW (Moderate) alert level. This shift will not affect current school operations in a significant way. However, we strongly ask our community to redouble its efforts to wear masks when around those outside their households, maintain physical distance, avoid large events and minimize social gatherings. By working together and continuing to closely follow health guidelines, we can continue to ensure that Punahou remains a safe place for students, faculty and staff. 
  • March 12, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    March 12, 2021

    Over the past three weeks, we have seen a sustained lower level of daily case numbers and test positivity on O‘ahu. As of March 12, the 7-day average of case numbers on O‘ahu is 26 while test positivity hovers around 1.0%. The stability in these pandemic conditions provides reassurance that we can continue to operate safely on campus while allowing our students and faculty to engage in more enriching teaching and learning experiences.

    Over this period, we have received a small number of notifications from our community about exposures to people who are infected. There were no new notifications of infections this week. We greatly appreciate our partnership with all families in sharing their health situation and test results with us, and, when exposed, complying with the quarantine requirements necessary to keep our campus safe. We feel grateful that all those having to quarantine have remained infection-free and have been able to return to campus safely.

    We are also pleased to report that we have been employing a routine testing program for athletes who are engaging in higher contact practices and games. We have had very high levels of participation in the program and have not detected any positive test results so far. In addition, our voluntary community testing program launched last week with no positive test results reported. More details from this program will be shared shortly.

    While our COVID alert level remains GREEN (low), we will remain vigilant in our efforts to monitor the health of our community and track pandemic conditions on O‘ahu. We hope our families enjoy the upcoming Spring Break and continue to follow the current guidance in place to keep COVID-19 levels low and manageable.
  • March 5, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    March 5, 2021

    Over the last week we have seen sustained lower daily case numbers of COVID-19 on O‘ahu, with a 7-day average of 24 (as of March 5) cases per day. Low test positivity of 0.9% (7-day average as of March 5) continues to confirm strong availability of testing to identify those who are infected. The strong, steadily declining numbers since the beginning of the year suggest that the public continues to follow safety guidelines and the health department has been able to conduct good contact tracing to prevent clusters from leading to widespread community transmission. Recent analysis has shown that Honolulu has the lowest cumulative rate of COVID-19 per capita among the top 100 most populous counties in the country.
     
    For these reasons, we have determined that our current School COVID alert level is GREEN (Low)As always, we will proceed with caution.
     
    Over the next few weeks we will determine what this means for operational shifts for students and faculty across campus. It is important to note that the GREEN level, while signifying an improvement in pandemic conditions, does not mean that we are in normal, pre-COVID conditions. All members of our community should continue to remain vigilant, wear face masks and practice social distancing.
     
    We are also happy to share that over 92% of our full-time faculty and staff have completed or have appointments to become fully vaccinated as part of the state’s effort to ensure high coverage of those eligible in phase 1b of the state’s vaccination program. We expect this number to increase over the next few weeks.
     
    We will remain watchful of how case numbers in Hawai‘i trend over time as well as the reports of new variants of COVID-19. We urge our community to observe all state and county safety measures to help sustain these gains in being able to live, work, and come to school safely. We encourage anyone planning to travel out of state for Spring Break to travel safely and adhere to the Punahou School travel policy for post-travel quarantine and testing.
  • February 26, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    February 26, 2021

    With the return of CMS to full density and the Academy able to offer almost all courses in-person, we are grateful to see our campus alive with the energy of students enjoying being with each other and their teachers. We are also pleased to see pandemic conditions continue their trend of lower case numbers and test positivity. The current 7-day average for case numbers on O‘ahu has dipped to 26 (as of Feb. 26) while test positivity remains low at 1% (7-day average on Feb. 26). These are strong indicators that Honolulu continues to move in the right direction.

    Last weekend, we received a report of a member of the Academy community who was diagnosed with COVID-19 and determined that this person was on campus at a time when they could have been infectious. All students and faculty affected were notified promptly and were able to quarantine safely. As we continue to monitor this group’s health, we are thankful that they all remain asymptomatic and the person infected is recovering well. We recognize that being in quarantine at this time is particularly challenging due to some of the on-campus activities which will be missed by these students and we appreciate the commitment our families have made to support the safety of our community by notifying us quickly and agreeing to adhere to our COVID-19 policies.

    The COVID alert level remains YELLOW (moderate), and we are hopeful that conditions further improve over the next few weeks. To ensure that we don’t lose ground over the progress that has been made in reducing community transmission, we will be bolstering our efforts on campus to ensure that masking and distancing are well enforced in classrooms and encourage the same of our families when off-campus.
  • February 19, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    February 19, 2021

    As we welcomed back our entire middle school students to campus this week, we were pleased to see the continued low case numbers on O‘ahu. The current 7-day average of daily cases dropped from 46 last week to 30 today (Feb. 19). Through this period, test positivity also decreased to some of the lowest levels Honolulu has seen since early last summer (7-day average of 1.0% as of Feb. 19). Although there were reported problems with the state’s electronic laboratory reporting of test results, we continue to feel confident that there is good availability of testing for those at risk.  

    This encouraging news was also reflected in what we have observed within the school community. This week, there were no new infections and only one COVID-19 exposure to a member of the community reported. This person was able to quarantine safely and remains healthy.  

    The COVID Alert level remains Yellow (Moderate), and we hope to see the downward trend continue. We know the promising pandemic conditions are the result of our community’s continued vigilance in following safety measures. We will continue to enforce these rules on campus and ask our families to do the same off-campus. These sustained efforts will allow us to continue expanding our offerings to enhance our students’ experience on campus while maintaining the highest standards of safety.   
  • February 12, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    February 12, 2021

    We are pleased to see the declining trend in O‘ahu case numbers continue through this week. The 7-day average of daily cases on O‘ahu is now 46 (as of Feb. 12), down from 61 last Friday. Over the same period, test positivity continues to remain low at 1.5% (7-day average as of Feb. 11), giving us confidence that testing remains accessible to those who seek it.
     
    In our own school community, we received notification of just one person infected due to exposure to a household member. The individual and family are in quarantine, and we wish them all a speedy recovery. This week we also received notification of another individual with a household exposure. We appreciate their prompt notification and swift ability to quarantine. There were no exposure incidents on campus this week. The School’s COVID alert level remains Yellow (Moderate), and we look forward to the return of all our Case Middle School students on campus every day next week.
     
    As we move into this period where more people will be on campus regularly, we are grateful for our community’s partnership to keep campus safe by sustaining our good practices and adhering to our safety policies.
  • February 5, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    February 5, 2021

    We have now shifted the COVID alert level to Yellow (Moderate) based on our review of pandemic conditions on O‘ahu and internal data about the health of our school community. Through the end of this week, conditions have continued to improve: the current 7-day average of daily cases on O‘ahu is 61 compared to 81 last Friday. Test positivity continues to trend downward, falling to 2.4% (7-day average as of Feb. 5.). As we announced previously, we are now looking forward to moving our School operations to the Yellow level on Tuesday, February 16 for the Junior School and Monday, February 22 for the Academy.

    This week, we learned of one person with a new infection. A dozen members of our community learned of exposures to infected persons, but there were no exposure incidents on campus and all affected members are safely in quarantine at home. We appreciate our families notifying us of these incidents and following our health policy. We wish the best of health to these members of our community. 

    As we continue to move toward a shift in Yellow level classroom operations, we ask for your cooperation in continuing to follow the safety measures of the School and for Honolulu. In particular, we ask that our community avoid social gatherings related to the Super Bowl. We hope you all enjoy a safe and out of this world Carnival weekend. 
  • February 3, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    February 3, 2021

    We are pleased to share with you a hopeful update regarding our COVID alert level.

    The current pandemic trends on O‘ahu continue to be encouraging, with lower test positivity (2.4% 7-day average as of Feb. 1) and lower case numbers (60 7-day average as of Feb. 3). Our internal school safety measures also indicate a reduction in infections and exposures among students and employees, while compliance with classroom safety procedures continues to be high.

    Based on these factors, the Pandemic Response Team has determined that pandemic conditions have stabilized at a low enough level to shift from Orange (heightened) to YELLOW (moderate) alert.

    In order to provide a smooth timeline for this change, we will make this operational shift beginning Tuesday, Feb. 16 in the Junior School and Monday, Feb. 22 in the Academy. The reason for this staggered approach is to help align our operations with the different schedules across the divisions.

    The implications of this shift in COVID alert level will vary for each division, most notably in Case Middle School, where we will be excited to welcome the Buff and Blue cohorts to campus together for the first time this school year. Division-specific information will be shared with you next week.

    As always, we will continue to monitor pandemic conditions, and, should circumstances change and warrant an operational shift, we are fully prepared to move back to an Orange alert level. We also strongly advise everyone to continue to comply with all current safety measures, including the wearing of masks, social distancing and staying home when sick. Working together, as we have this year, we can ensure a healthy school environment for everyone.
  • January29, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    January 29, 2021

    This week, we continue to see signs that the post-holiday swell in case numbers has stabilized and returned to levels that we saw in early December. The current 7-day average of daily cases on O‘ahu is 81 (as of Jan 29). The volume of testing on O‘ahu continues to be strong, and test positivity remains relatively low at 2.9% (7-day average).

    Within our school community, we have had no notifications of infections or close contacts with those infected among students or employees. Some of our Junior School families, however, were affected by an off-campus, preschool-related exposure to their younger children. We greatly appreciated these families’ efforts to notify us quickly, keep their exposed children quarantining safely, and keep us updated on the household’s health status. We are grateful that our affected families have not seen infections among their exposed children and all continue to be healthy. We value this type of trust and partnership with our community, as it is a critical aspect of how we have been able to operate safely on campus.

    The current COVID alert level is ORANGE (heightened) but we will continue to assess the trend in case numbers to determine if conditions continue to improve. We thank all of you for continuing to do your part to further reduce community transmission and help our city and county move toward more reopening.
  • January 22, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    January 22, 2021

    This week, reports from the Health Department showed a welcome steady decline in the 7-day average of daily cases for O‘ahu. The current 7-day average is 78 (as of Jan. 22), down from 112 average cases per day last Friday. Trends in testing data are also promising – with the exception of the Monday holiday, testing volume has remained high and the public continues to have good access to diagnostic services. 
     
    Within the School community, compliance with our safety measures remains strong, with no elevated temperatures on arrival, close adherence to our readmission to campus process when ill or traveling, and no known infections on campus. There were no new infections reported by members of our community. We received notifications from three members of our community that they had been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19. We are grateful that all individuals were able to quarantine safely and remain healthy. 
     
    The current pandemic level remains ORANGE (heightened) as we assess the stability of the current trend. 
     
    We will continue to monitor pandemic conditions for O‘ahu and our community’s health, hoping for these positive trends to continue and for Honolulu to move toward Tier 3 reopening. Lower levels of community transmission will allow us to continue offering more experiences on campus to enhance student learning. Lower daily case numbers will also be critical to reach before new, more transmissible variants of coronavirus become the dominant strain in our state. We encourage our community to do its part to adhere to all safety measures still in place. 
  • January 15, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    January 15, 2021
     
    O‘ahu case numbers have fluctuated over the past week, from 213 on Jan. 7 to 73 on Jan. 13, and now above 100 the past two days. The 7-day average of daily case numbers stands at 112 (as of Jan. 14). We are encouraged by the high testing volume and lower test positivity seen through this week, and are following the State Health Department’s identification of several large clusters in the public related to eating in restaurants and social gatherings. We continue to monitor health conditions closely as we assess our COVID alert level. 
     
    Given these factors, the School COVID alert level remains Orange (Heightened).
     
    This week, we were notified about a club sport exposure event affecting 10 individuals, including two members of our school community who reported having an infected member of their household. The affected school community members were able to quarantine safely and are monitoring their health. We thank them for their care for the community in notifying us quickly and taking steps so that no exposure occurred on campus. We wish their loved ones a speedy recovery. 
     
    We will continue to evaluate our practices, applying emerging information about COVID transmission and learning from our partnership with families about how we can continuously improve the student learning experience on campus safely. We will provide future updates to the community on the status of vaccine distribution. And soon, we plan to introduce additional options for voluntary community testing as yet another layer of safety. We wish you all a safe and meaningful Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. 
     
  • January 11, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    January 11, 2021

    Over the past week, we have seen an increase in daily case numbers and test positivity on O‘ahu. We want to provide an update on our assessment of the situation to keep you as informed as possible about how we will sustain a safe environment for in-person classes.

    What the Data Tells Us
    We continue to monitor data reported by the Department of Health on case numbers, volume of tests, test positivity, and cluster investigations for O‘ahu. While case numbers continue to be of concern, there has been a slight downward trend over the weekend. We feel that this trend is encouraging in light of the high testing volume that was sustained through the week. (Prior to the winter break average testing volume was about 2,500 tests per day; currently, DOH reports 3,000 – 4,000 tests per day.) High testing volume suggests that those who are most likely to be infected have good access to testing and are more likely to be detected and receive instructions to quarantine at home and prevent further transmission.

    Monitoring This Week
    Through this week, we hope to be able to determine whether the post-holiday swell has subsided and we will return to more moderate levels of cases in the community, or whether we see increased case numbers that require a change in our COVID alert level.

    We feel confident that our multiple layers of safety will enable us to continue to conduct safe in-person classes in the current pandemic state, but we are ready to modify this assessment if necessary. As a reminder, to date we have had no recorded transmission of COVID on campus. This is due entirely to our school community’s close adherence to the safety plan that we put in place in the fall.

    We greatly value our partnership with our families and ask every member of our school community to recommit to following county guidelines and advisories regarding mask wearing and minimizing social gathering with those outside your household. Families play a critical role in keeping our campus safe by strictly following our stay home if sick policy, and going through the readmission process if a student is absent due to illness. We encourage you to be proactive in consulting with a health care provider if anyone in your household becomes ill with COVID-related symptoms, however mild.
  • January 8, 2021: Weekly Health Update

    January 08, 2021

    Aloha Parents,

    We hope you had a restful and safe winter break. Over the last three weeks, O‘ahu has seen fluctuation in case numbers where spikes appear related to holiday gatherings and dips coincide with lower testing volume around December 25 and New Year’s Day. Reports from the health department have also pointed to several large institution-related clusters on O‘ahu (e.g. correctional facilities, health care facilities, and religious gatherings). The current 7-day average of new case numbers for Oahu has been over 100 since Monday. Test positivity also is higher than before winter break at 4.4% (7-day average as of January 8). 

    The current COVID alert level remains ORANGE (heightened). We had hoped to return Case Middle School to full attendance with all students every day on January 19, but given the recent elevation and volatility in cases on O‘ahu we will need to defer that plan until we have greater clarity on the current trends. Our hope is that cases will decline to a level that allows us to safely return all CMS students to school every day as soon as possible.

    The recent increase in cases is also a reminder of the importance of adhering to county and health department guidelines around social gatherings and safety measures, such as wearing masks when in public. Every household has a role to play in promoting the health and safety of our community.  

    We will continue to evaluate pandemic conditions carefully in the coming weeks to determine if future adjustments to our alert level and campus operations become necessary. Thank you for your patience and support as we work to deliver a Punahou education in the safest way possible for our entire community. 

    Additional Information
    Over the winter break we asked families to start using the Daily Health Check-in App for their children and to follow the readmission procedure when their children were ill. Those who traveled out of state during the winter break have observed the required 10-day travel quarantine period or gotten a Day 5 post-travel test in order to be cleared to return to campus. We thank our families for their cooperation in adhering to these safety guidelines and ensuring that we can make a safe return to classes. 

    We have been notified of three members of our community with active infections in the last week. Due to their care and adherence to our health policy, they were not on campus during their period of infectiousness. There were no exposure incidents at school. We are also monitoring several members of our community who have been exposed to a person infected and all continue to quarantine safely at home. At last report, all of these individuals are recovering well and we wish the best for the health of their families. 

    Mahalo,
    Pandemic Response Team
  • December 18 2020: Weekly Health Update

    December 18, 2020

    Aloha Parents,

    As we head into Winter Break, we are relieved to see that Hawai‘i’s trends, so far, have not followed the steep increases in COVID-19 cases seen in many parts of the mainland. Although there have been several days over the past 10 days with over 100 cases reported for O‘ahu, we understand that more than 175 of these cases are associated with a serious outbreak within a correctional facility and do not signal wider-spread community transmission. The current 7-day average of daily new cases is 101 (as of Dec. 18) but would be in the mid 70s if the correctional facility cases were excluded. Other key measures such as test positivity appear higher than last week at 3.6% (7-day average as of Dec. 18) but are also affected by this large cluster investigation. Testing volume remains high which reflects good supply and high interest from the general public.

    In our school community, we continue to see families and employees adhering to the Stay Home if Sick policy and have not detected elevated temperatures among those arriving on campus. Over the weekend, a member of our community notified the school that they had been diagnosed with COVID-19. As a result of our contact tracing efforts, we identified the faculty and students who were exposed and notified them of the need to quarantine. We continue to follow the health status of these 13 individuals and are grateful that they all remain asymptomatic and in good health. We appreciate the care the person who was infected showed to the community by staying home when symptoms first appeared, getting tested and notifying the school quickly. And we are happy to report this member of our ‘ohana is recovering well.

    The current COVID alert level remains ORANGE (heightened). We will continue to operate at the ORANGE alert level for at least two weeks (through at least Friday, Jan. 15) as we monitor the impact of the holiday season and out of state travelers arriving from potentially high prevalence areas. We wish you all a very safe and happy holiday!

    We will provide our next Health Update email the week before our return to school.
  • December 11, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    December 11, 2020
     
    This week on O‘ahu, newly reported COVID-19 diagnoses followed a similar pattern as last week, with a 7-day average of daily cases of 64 (as of Dec. 11). Given the potential for high levels of community transmission expected after the Thanksgiving holiday, we are pleased to see the number of cases in Honolulu remain moderate with a high volume of testing on the island.

    In our school community, we continue to have strong compliance with the Daily Health Check-in App across all Divisions (88%) and no elevated temperatures on arrival. Our thanks go out to the families taking extra care to keep their children at home when ill or determining when there has been a potential exposure to their household members. We have not had a known exposure event on campus for the last month. We are also happy to welcome back a number of community members who successfully completed their quarantine period in time to enjoy the last week of school before winter break. 

    We remain in the ORANGE (heightened) alert level and encourage our community to continue to adhere to safety guidelines of the state and county throughout this holiday season. Your sustained attention and commitment to this in your own lives is vital to our collective success as a school.
  • December 4, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    December 4, 2020
     
    As we return from the Thanksgiving break, we continue to monitor the impact of the holiday season on pandemic conditions. Testing volume on O‘ahu through the last two weeks has been high, signaling efforts by the Health Department and the general public to identify infections in our community. Daily case numbers continue to lag for 36 hours (based on the Department of Health’s new reporting approach). Currently, the 7-day average of daily cases in Honolulu is 64, with 73 new cases reported today (Dec. 4).

    Through the holiday break, we were notified of several families impacted by infections within their households, including visitors arriving from the mainland. This week, we were notified of a few students who were exposed to an infected person through a shared ride service. All of those exposed are safely quarantining and continue to show no symptoms. We are glad to report that over the last two weeks we have not had any on-campus exposure incidents. Compliance with the Daily Health Check-In app continues to be high, and we have had no elevated temperatures detected on arrival.

    We appreciate this trusted partnership with our community that ensures safety at school. As noted earlier, the School will continue to operate in the Orange alert level through the end of the semester. 
  • November 20, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    November 20, 2020

    Aloha Parents,

    After higher numbers reported through last weekend, O‘ahu saw a modest decline in new cases reported through this week. The current 7-day average of new case numbers is 71 (as of Nov. 20) down from 83 last Friday.* The 7-day average test positivity continues to be below 3% and edges closer to the 2.5% threshold used by the City and County of Honolulu as one indicator of readiness to move toward Tier 3. The Health Department reports that social gatherings continue to be a concern as a source of clusters and news reports suggest that high rates of infection on the mainland have created some difficulty for returning travelers and visitors to obtain pre-travel testing.

    On campus, we have seen strong cooperation from our community in the usage of the Daily Health Check-in App (~90%) and families following the readmission process when students are ready to return from an illness. There were no elevated temperatures detected upon arrival. This week we did not receive any notifications from members of our community of new infections or direct contact with people infected. We continue to monitor the health of the cohort impacted by the exposure incident last week and are thankful to report that no additional infections have been detected. We extend our best wishes to all the families affected.
    Based on the current case numbers and uncertainty about the general public’s adherence to safety measures over this holiday season, the COVID alert level remains ORANGE (heightened) and as noted earlier, our classroom operational practices and tier will remain unchanged at ORANGE through the week of Nov. 30 – Dec. 4.

    We thank you for your continued support and care for the health of your family and our community. We urge you to pay attention to guidelines for having a safe holiday from the CDC and our state and city government.
     
    * Please note that the Health Department has adjusted its daily reporting and now shares case numbers that are slightly more delayed. For consistency, the Punahou COVID dashboard will be updated to reflect the information provided on the date reported.

    Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no COVID weekly summary next week.
     
    Wishing you all a restful and safe Thanksgiving,
    Pandemic Response Team
  • November 13, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    New COVID case numbers on O‘ahu continue to show some unpredictability, with the 7-day average of cases in Honolulu at 83, up from 73 last week. The State Department of Health recommends exercising ongoing caution given the uncertainty of conditions due to increased out-of-state travelers and shifts in the public’s behavior with respect to social gatherings, especially around holiday celebrations.

    With the rise in new cases reported on O‘ahu, we feel it is prudent to shift to the ORANGE (Heightened) alert level. In an earlier communication, we shared that the planned shift in operational tiers from ORANGE to YELLOW would be paused until after Thanksgiving. For now, therefore, our school operations will continue as they stand at the present. We will update you regarding any possible future changes.

    We were also notified of an on-campus exposure incident of an asymptomatic person and began quarantining a classroom cohort in the Junior School yesterday. The exposure was limited to one day, thanks to the conscientious efforts of the household to follow recommended practices and our health policy. This was our first on-campus exposure incident, and we were able to act swiftly within an hour to notify those with direct exposure to the person infected.

    We will continue to monitor the health of the students and teachers involved and wish the very best for those families affected.

    Please know that if you have not been directly contacted by a member of our pandemic response team, it means that your child is not considered to have had an exposure to a known infected person on campus. Our priority is to notify those directly affected as soon as possible and to update the broader school community each week through these Health Update emails.

    We continue to ask for your cooperation in sharing information with the School when families have ill household members and students or employees are tested related to an illness. This information is critical for us to understand the health status of our community.

    We have heard from some families who have questions about how to talk with their children about the exposure incident on campus. Whether a student wonders why a friend cannot come to campus as usual or wonders about their own risk of getting sick at school, our counselors have shared some helpful tips that may be useful for having this conversation with your children.
  • November 6, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    November 6, 2020

    After several weeks of steady decline, Honolulu saw an uptick in new COVID cases in the middle of this week and the mayor has indicated that this may delay the shift to Tier 3 of reopening. The current 7-day daily average of Oʻahu new cases is now 73 and test positivity remains under 3%. We continue to monitor the situation carefully to determine the context for this increase in new infections and whether it signals a more concerning sustained trajectory.

    Within our community, we continue to see strong compliance with many of our most important safety measures. Use of the Daily Health Check-In App has returned to 87% compliance overall after we have reinstated our daily text message reminders. We also have not seen any elevated temperatures upon arrival this week. And because families care for our community, we have observed that families continue to report to us readily about illnesses and COVID testing as consistent with our readmission to campus policy. Since the beginning of students’ return to campus, we have not been aware of any on-campus exposure incidents.

    The COVID alert level remains YELLOW (moderate). To coincide with this level, there are some operational shifts in the Junior School, largely having to do with face shields. These shifts will be effective as of Monday, November 9. Please refer to the email sent earlier this afternoon to Junior School families from Dr. Priore-Kim for more details.
  • October 16, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    October 16, 2020

    Through the first week of back to campus learning, we have seen a slow decline in daily case numbers for Honolulu County. The Oʻahu 7-day average of new cases dropped from 76 on October 9 to 61 today (Oct. 16). Part of this decline was due to lower testing volume over the long weekend. Nevertheless, the 7-day average test positivity for Honolulu remains steadily below 5% at 3.4%. We continue to monitor trends carefully as the state pre-travel program rolls out and Honolulu County moves to the next tier of reopening the economy. Our current alert level is Orange and will likely continue at this level through the end of October. We remain hopeful that we will be able to transition to Yellow by early November if current trends continue.

    Over the first four days, we have had very good compliance campus wide with the use of face masks, no elevated temperatures detected upon arrival, and a relatively low level of reported illness among students. The current use of the Daily Health Check In App has been 80% and suggests good initial monitoring of student health. We will continue to send families reminder text messages next week in an effort to reach full compliance.

    We are also pleased to report that there have been no known infected persons on campus. At the same time, we are aware of and working with the families of four students who have been close contacts of persons infected and two off-campus students who are infected themselves. It is important to note that the two infected students were not and have not been on campus while infected. All families have followed our policy of notifying their deans and remaining in quarantine/isolation at home. We ask our community to extend their concern for the wellbeing of these families, respect their privacy, and share our appreciation for them in doing their part to keep our campus safe.
  • October 23, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    October 23, 2020

    This week, new case numbers on O‘ahu continued to show a sustained 7-day average of 61 per day (October 23). Testing access continues to look strong with a current 7-day average of test positivity under 3%. At the same time, last week saw the start of the state’s Pre-Travel testing program, which has resulted in more than double the number of incoming travelers per day as well as an increase in traveling residents. Honolulu has also announced a transition to Tier 2 of reopening, which relaxes some restrictions about public gatherings with non-household members. We are eager to see results from the surveillance program the state has in place to assess COVID status among a sample of returning residents. This program will help the state to determine how effective the pre-travel testing program is in identifying people who may have acquired infections while traveling.

    As we moved into our second week of campus reopening, we have seen strong compliance with the use of the Daily Health Check-in App and no elevated temperatures upon arrival to campus. We thank our families for working with us to adhere to the new safety rules, which help to safeguard the health of our community. We also continue to have good communication with families when their children are ill and are encouraged when families report being proactive in seeking the advice of a health care provider when their children have symptoms associated with COVID. We greatly appreciate the families who have alerted us to COVID exposures in their households and trust us to work with them confidentially. So far, we are following a number of students who are quarantining and are happy to report that we continue to have no incidents of known infected members of our community on campus. We are also thankful that those who have been directly affected are recovering well or have remained asymptomatic.

    The current COVID alert level continues to be ORANGE (Heightened), but we are hopeful that pandemic conditions will indicate a shift to YELLOW (Moderate) within the next few weeks. We remain mindful of the benefits of providing families with enough of a runway to adjust to how school operations will change in the moderate alert level, including the impact on Athletics and co-curricular offerings. Most importantly, a transition to Yellow will be designed to support what is best for student learning outcomes and coincide with the academic cycles specific to each division. Should Punahou announce a shift to Yellow, families will receive communication from their student’s deans and principals about what they can expect at their individual grade levels.
  • October 30, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    October 30, 2020

    We are happy to report that we continue to see a steady decline in the 7-day average of new cases on Oʻahu, dropping from 61 last Friday to 51 as of October 30. Based on this assessment and the strong compliance of our families with our health protocols, we can announce that the School is now in the YELLOW (Moderate) alert level. More detailed communication about the timing and meaning of the operational shift to YELLOW for each division of our School will be shared with families early next week.

    Please note that there will be no changes to academic schedules next week, Nov. 2 – 6, (other than dropoff and pickup times, which will be expanded starting on Nov. 2 to alleviate traffic). We anticipate the Academy to shift its operations on Nov. 9 and grades 6 – 8 to do so on Nov. 16. Schedules in Kindergarten – grade 5 will remain unchanged in YELLOW. The reason for this staggered approach is to provide as seamless a transition as possible in instruction for our students.

    About Our Shift to Yellow
    Beyond the declines in case load and test positivity rate on Oʻahu, other health measures within our school community continue to be encouraging. Since the return to on-campus classes, we have had only one elevated temperature upon arrival, and this student safely returned home before reaching class. Numbers of students sent to the Health Center during the school day have been lower than in typical years, and this appears consistent with our families keeping ill children at home, consulting with their health care provider and being proactive about COVID testing. Due to the care of these families and adherence to our health policies, there have been no known incidents of on-campus exposure to COVID.

    We continue to watch the state’s pre-travel testing program, which has shown a three-fold increase in the number of travelers arriving to our state daily. At the same time, post-travel surveillance among returning residents and the availability of surge testing over the weekend and through this week suggest that the state is working hard to assess the effectiveness of the program. We will continue to monitor the situation, including how it impacts the number of travelers returning to our campus. So far, there has been excellent compliance with students and employees following the Day 5 Post-travel testing policy.

    Halloween Reminder
    Please remember that the current government regulations limit social gatherings to no more than five people. We hope our students and their families enjoy a safe and fun Halloween weekend while observing guidance about social distancing, wearing masks when around others outside your household, and enjoying activities outdoors.
  • October 6, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    Updated October 6, 2020
     
    We have good news to share. Our Pandemic Response Team continues to observe a decline in the average daily number of new COVID-19 cases over a 7-day period. Currently, that number on Oʻahu stands at 75 (as of Oct. 5), a level that, taken together with a test positivity rate under 5%, allows us to safely reopen campus on Oct. 13. We greatly look forward to welcoming children back to Kapunahou.

    To support the successful transition back to campus and ensure the stability of health conditions within our school community, Punahou will operate in the Orange (Heightened) alert level for at least the first two weeks of our return to campus, from Oct. 13 – 23. We will use these two weeks to see if the numbers continue to move in the right direction, thereby allowing us to transition to the Yellow (Moderate) alert level, or if we will remain in Orange for a more sustained period of time.

    What this means for on-campus learners:
    Oct. 13 – 16
    • All students who are returning to campus will commence with a half-on/half-off reorientation week schedule that will be shared by your child’s Dean.
    Oct. 19 – 23
    • Kindergarten: All on-campus learners will be in school for a half-day on Oct. 19. Full days begin Oct. 20.
    • Grades 1 – 5: All on-campus learners will be in school for full days with their cohorts on campus beginning on Oct. 19.
    • Grades 6 – 8: Students in Case Middle School will follow an alternating schedule of one week on campus/one week at home. This alternating schedule will remain in effect while the School is in the Orange alert level and will switch to instruction on campus every day once we are able to transition to Yellow. (NOTE: The CMS schedule in the Orange alert level is designed to address the unique challenges posed by the physical structure of the team spaces and student population. It ensures smaller cohort sizes that align with the overall safety precautions of the rest of the School.)
    • Kindergarten – Grade 8: Students are allowed on campus from 7:30 a.m. until 30 minutes past their dismissal times, and families can opt for After School Care (Kindergarten – Grade 5) or After School Study Hall (Grades 6 – 8) until 5:30 p.m. for a fee.
    • Academy: Students will be able to come to campus every day with semester courses online and block courses taking place in person. Based on their individual course schedule, students are only required to be on campus for their in-person block courses, and can arrive later or leave earlier as their online semester courses allow. We are allowing all students to be on campus 7:45 a.m. – 4 p.m. if it is necessary for them.
    • Additional information regarding your child’s schedule will come from their Teachers and Deans.
    What this means for at-home learners:
    Oct. 13 – 16
    • At-home learning orientation (for families who have already selected the At-Home option)
    • Kindergarten – Grade 5: At-home learners begin their transition to At-Home learning during the week of Oct. 13
    • Grades 6 – 8: At-home learners will continue to follow their Buff and Blue schedules from home.
    • Academy: At-home learners will continue with remote learning as planned for the week of Oct. 13 and beyond.
    Oct. 19 – 23
    • At-home learning continues as scheduled.
    Looking Ahead
    Over the next two weeks, we will continue to monitor health conditions on Oʻahu to determine if the trendline continues to improve. We remain hopeful that we will be able to transition to the Yellow alert level by the week of Oct. 26, but are prepared should we remain in a sustained Orange. 

    As always, thank you for your continued focus on the health and education of your children. We are delighted to be reopening our campus on Oct. 13.
  • October 2, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    October 2, 2020

    Over the last two weeks, daily case numbers for O‘ahu continue to hover below 100 cases per day. The current 7-day average of daily case numbers is 95. The volume of testing in Honolulu has dropped to pre-surge testing levels and test positivity is 4.1% (7-day average), which indicates adequate test availability. The assessment of the Department of Health's performance in conducting contact tracing is based on qualitative reports from the news media and suggests that, while improvements have been made, additional work is necessary.

    The current COVID alert level is ORANGE, and we continue to monitor the health data on O‘ahu closely to determine what alert level we will be in when we return to campus on October 13. The School is preparing contingency plans for a range of conditions, including a sustained Orange alert level should that become necessary, and optimizing operations that will ensure the stability of our on-campus learning plan.

    Health Dashboard
    To help our school community understand the health metrics that we track on a daily basis, we are providing an online Health Dashboard. This dashboard includes external data, such as daily case numbers and test positivity rates for Oʻahu, as well as internal information from our own school community. Please see the dashboard above for more information.

  • September 29, 2020: Message from the President's Office

    Updated September 29, 2020
     
    Dear Punahou Families,

    Last Tuesday, we notified you that Punahou was anticipating a return to campus starting on October 5. At the time, the COVID-19 trendline on Oʻahu looked encouraging, with a steady decline in daily caseloads and test positivity rates – signs that the state’s stay-at-home order had started to produce results. Since then, however, these figures have plateaued, and it is possible that we may not achieve the lower numbers that we had hoped to see for some time.

    We will therefore adjust our operational plans to meet the health conditions as they currently exist and reopen campus in the safest way possible. This includes additional contingency plans for a sustained Orange pandemic alert level should that become necessary.

    What this means for my child’s schedule
    • We will postpone our return to campus by one week, from Monday, October 5 to Tuesday, October 13 (Monday, October 12 is a holiday). This will provide time to further monitor the trend in case numbers on Oʻahu and calibrate our operations accordingly.
    • All students will continue with distance learning until October 13. There are no changes to the plans for this week.
    • Starting on October 13, students who are returning to campus will commence with the half-on/half-off reorientation week schedule. Over the span of four days (October 13 – 16), campus will be at approximately 50% density.
      • After the orientation period, starting on October 19, all on-campus learners will be on campus.
      • Further information about the plans for the week of October 13 – 16 will be shared by your child’s grade level Dean in the coming week.
    • At-home learning option starting on October 13 (for families who chose this option):
      • Kindergarten – Grade 5: There will be a transition to at-home learning during the week of October 13.
      • Grades 6 – 8: At-home learners will continue to follow their Buff and Blue schedules from home.
      • Academy: At-home learners will continue with remote learning as planned for the week of October 13 and beyond. More information to come from their teachers and Deans.
    Why this change
    When we wrote last Tuesday, we explained that our return to campus in the Yellow alert level would require four key components:
    • A sustained reduction in test positivity, with consistent figures below 5%;
    • A sustained and significant reduction in daily caseloads over a two-week period;
    • Broad public access to opportunities for testing;
    • The implementation of an effective contact tracing program on Oʻahu.
    Since then, access to testing as well as the state’s contact tracing program have both improved. New data collected over the past week, however, has shown an unfortunate stalling of the pandemic trends that we had been observing and hoped would continue.
    • The average daily number of new COVID-19 cases has now leveled off near 100, higher than what was projected.
    • The test positivity rate has climbed up over the past week and now sits near 5%, the level at which the World Health Organization cautions communities to slow down social gatherings, and reopening of schools and businesses.

    Going forward

    We will continue to monitor the health situation on Oʻahu and communicate what we know, when we know it. Our teachers, staff and administration look forward to welcoming our on-campus learners back to campus on October 13 and continuing to support our at-home learners as well. Families must also do their part by adhering to state health guidelines concerning the wearing of masks when in public.

    This is not the path or timeline that we had wanted, of course, and we share the disappointment of many families that we are not able to return as soon as we had hoped. This decision is, however, consistent with our values of promoting the safety, health, and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff, and families.

    Thank you for your continued support, and please stay well.

    With aloha,
     
    Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86

    Emily McCarren, Ph.D.
    Academy Principal

    Paris Priore-Kim, Ed.D. ’76
    Junior School Principal
  • September 25, 2020: Weekly Update

    September 25, 2020
     
    As the school prepares to welcome students back to campus, we continue to monitor the pandemic data reported by the state. We continue to observe a decline in the average new cases reported daily on O‘ahu. The 7-day average of daily new cases has dropped from 102 last Friday to 88 today. The daily fluctuation of case numbers follows a predictable pattern and is still consistent with strong declines. The elevated number of cases reported on Wednesday, Sept. 23 was associated with a doubling of tests conducted, which may indicate aggressive efforts to test and find pockets of infection as part of good contact tracing. However, we will monitor this closely to assess whether higher numbers of new cases are sustained, which may indicate a greater level of community transmission.

    We are also encouraged by the Mayor’s office rollout of a more data-driven and gradual approach to reopening, which can help to sustain the gains in pandemic control, if adhered to. Based on our assessment of case numbers, test availability and positivity, news about state and county management pandemic response and notifications about COVID exposure and infections within our community, the current School COVID alert level is Orange. Our intention is to return to campus in the Yellow alert level, and we continue to anticipate that conditions will enable us to do so as planned by October 5.

    We continue to watch how the reorganization of the State COVID-19 Response Team will manage the reopening of the economy, including out of state travel and tourism. We ask all our families to do their part to care for others and engage in good decision making when adhering to state and county restrictions, avoiding large social gatherings, and wearing masks when with people other than their household members.

    Mahalo,
    Pandemic Response Team

     
  • September 22, 2020 Message from the President's Office

    Updated September 22, 2020
     
    Dear Punahou Families,

    Based on the current health conditions on O‘ahu, we can report that Punahou will once again be able to welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus starting on October 5. This will be a carefully managed return to campus in the Yellow (Moderate) alert level with a staggered approach to acclimate students and teachers to their new environment. More information about what this means for your children and their schedules will be shared over the coming days.

    Why We Are Ready to Reopen Campus on October 5
    Throughout the summer, we have outlined the health conditions on O‘ahu that would need to be met in order for us to reopen campus. These conditions have largely been met due to the state’s stay-at-home order and increased vigilance on the part of the entire community. And we expect the caseload to continue to decline.

    Condition
    • A sustained reduction in test positivity, with consistent figures lower than 5%
    • A sustained and significant reduction in daily caseloads over a two-week period
    • Broad public access to opportunities for testing
    • The implementation of an effective contact tracing program on O‘ahu
    Where We are Today
    • Current test positivity for O‘ahu is approximately 2.3% (7-day average)
    • Over the past three weeks, the 7-day average of new cases on O‘ahu has fallen from >200 to <90
    • Recent surge testing has reached over 57,000 residents on O‘ahu
    • The state contact tracing program has been significantly bolstered over the past three weeks.
    We believe that in-person teaching and learning with appropriate safety measures in place will strongly benefit our students and support their social and emotional well-being. Our School and its Pandemic Response Team have been preparing for this moment for months, and our teachers are eager to see their students in person once more.

    At-home Learning Option
    We also know that some families may wish to have their children learn from home, regardless of the pandemic alert level. As a reminder, the deadline for the Academy sign-up is tomorrow, Wednesday, September 23 and deadline for the Junior School sign-up is Friday, September 25.

    For those who have not yet been able to attend a session, there will be additional Q&A’s scheduled with Principal McCarren and Principal Priore-Kim later this afternoon. To learn more about this option and how to sign-up, please visit the links below:

    Once again, on behalf of the entire school, we want to express our deep gratitude for your commitment to Punahou these past months. We also want to take this moment to recognize the outstanding work of our dedicated faculty as they have supported our students throughout this process. We look forward to continuing the educational journey with your children and to a very productive year ahead.

    Please take care of yourselves and each other.

    With aloha,
     
    Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86

    Emily McCarren, Ph.D.
    Academy Principal

    Paris Priore-Kim, Ed.D. ’76
    Junior School Principal
  • September 18: Weekly Health Update

    September 18, 2020

    Recent trends regarding the pandemic in Hawai‘i have continued to improve. Through the third week of the Honolulu stay-at-home order, we continue to see a strong, steady decline in new COVID-19 cases. The current 7-day average of new cases for O‘ahu is 97. Testing resources are also improving, and following the recent surge testing the state reports possession of 30,000 additional free tests which can be used to provide focused efforts on communities of higher need. Reports of a more efficiently organized contact tracing program managed by the Department of Health are encouraging as well.

    Our student families and employees have shared that they took advantage of the surge testing opportunity. While we have received some notifications from employees and students that they are contacts of people infected over the past two weeks, we have not had anyone report that they are themselves infected.

    Based on our current assessment of both the broader situation on O‘ahu and within our school community, we continue to plan for an Oct. 5 return to campus for our students, provided that health conditions allow us to do so in the Yellow (Moderate) alert level. We are encouraged by ongoing signs of reduced test positivity and daily caseloads along with increased public access to testing and contact tracing. More details about the return to campus will be provided early next week to help our students and their families prepare for this transition and so that our children can safely enjoy being together with their peers and teachers in class.
  • September 11, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    Over the last week, the 7-day average daily new case numbers on O‘ahu declined from 204 to 128. This trend is highly encouraging and suggests that the stay-at-home measures, increase in testing access, and adjustments in how the state manages contact tracing may be making an impact in bringing the COVID-19 epidemic under better control. Test positivity numbers have also declined over this period. The increase in surge testing of asymptomatic individuals has made this data point less useful as a measure, but we are encouraged by the general trend.

    The current levels of active COVID-19 cases are not where O‘ahu needs to be in order for us to open school safely, but we are moving in the right direction. We believe the extension of the stay-at-home order along with strong enforcement of the County restrictions will help to further reduce case prevalence levels, and we remain hopeful that we will be able to return to campus as early as October 5.

    We continue to monitor the changing management structure at the health department and hope the new leadership will capitalize on the gains in epidemic control and put the structures in place to educate the public, sustain swift and effective contact tracing, and prevent wide-scale community transmission from emerging again.

    Please continue to follow health and safety guidelines – i.e. wearing a face mask, practicing social distancing, and avoiding social gathering – and encourage your children to do the same.
  • September 4, 2020: Message from the President's Office

    Updated September 4, 2020
     
    Dear Punahou Families,

    I hope this email finds you and your children off to a strong and healthy start to the new school year. I want to take a moment to share with you our current perspective regarding our return to campus.

    As I am sure you have observed, we remain in a state of volatility with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hawaiʻi continues to experience high levels of new coronavirus cases, signaling widespread community transmission. New case numbers have fluctuated greatly over the last week making trends difficult to interpret. The 7-day average test positivity rate at the time of the current Honolulu county stay-at-home order, August 28, was 5.9%. The World Health Organization recommends that governments wait for a sustained 2-week test positivity below 5% in order to reopen. While test positivity numbers have improved over the last week, the data are also affected by mass testing opportunities offered on Oʻahu which increasingly include asymptomatic as well as symptomatic individuals.

    While we are hopeful that they will soon have an impact, at this point the effects of the stay-at-home orders, restrictions on gatherings of more than five people, and the temporary closure of many businesses and school campuses remain to be seen. Our sincere hope is that we will begin to observe the impact of these measures over the next week or two.
    As a school committed to protecting the safety and wellbeing of its students, faculty and staff, we believe that a return to campus will require further and significant improvement in overall health conditions. In particular, our decision will be shaped by evidence of the following factors:
    • A sustained reduction in test positivity, with consistent figures lower than 5%;
    • A sustained and significant reduction in daily caseloads over a two-week period;
    • Broad public access to opportunities for testing;
    • The implementation of an effective contact tracing program on O‘ahu.
    As such, we have concluded that we will need to remain in the Red alert level and continue distance learning until at least October 5We hope that conditions will improve sufficiently to allow for a return to campus by then or soon thereafter.

    Like many of you, we are very eager to bring everyone back to our classrooms, libraries, design labs and athletic fields. We know that your children have missed seeing each other, and our faculty and staff have greatly missed them too. At this point in time, however, we believe that this is the most responsible path for us to pursue. Our Pandemic Response Team will continue to monitor health conditions and share with you their assessments on a weekly basis, keeping everyone informed as conditions start to improve. Families will be given adequate time to prepare for the transition back to campus as well.

    Finally, we also recognize that some families may wish to keep their children home, regardless of the alert level at the time of reopening. For these families, we will offer an at-home learning option and will share further details, including how to sign up, in the coming weeks.

    As always, I want to thank you for your continued confidence in Punahou. Our school year has started off very well, and we are grateful for the hard work and collaboration of our faculty, staff, families and students. It is a great privilege to teach your children, and we remain inspired by their example of resilience and determination.

    Please take care of yourselves and each other.
    With aloha,
    Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86
  • August 24, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    Over the last 10 days, new case numbers of COVID-19 appear to have plateaued, but remain high with a 7-day average of 216 new cases per day. Test positivity remains above 6% (7-day average) and COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths have continued to climb over this period.

    In an effort to curb community spread on O‘ahu, the governor and Honolulu mayor issued additional restrictions on social gatherings and greater enforcement of mask wearing and other social distancing measures on August 19. In addition to these emergency orders, the state has announced a change in the structure for how the health department manages contact tracing, has noted that Hawai‘i is now a priority state for receiving laboratory reagent and COVID supplies, and has launched a social norms campaign to change the public’s behavior around COVID-19 mask wearing and social gathering practices.

    The effectiveness of these measures in turning the trajectory of community spread may not be reflected in case numbers until 7-10 days after being fully implemented. However, recent trends in anonymized cell phone data used to track mobility suggests a steady reduction in movement of the public in Honolulu. We hope by the next weekly update to begin to see signs of a decline in new cases. In the meantime, we ask our community to continue to adhere to state and county rules and do their part in helping to return Hawai‘i to a well-controlled epidemic state.
  • August 14, 2020: Weekly Health Update

    The pandemic situation in Hawai‘i continues to be of great concern. The 7-day average for new case numbers (as of August 14) now exceeds 200. And test positivity over the same period was 6.0%, a level which exceeds the 5% threshold the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends for safe reopening. We are also concerned by rising hospitalizations over the last week. There are also ongoing questions, based on reports from various news outlets, about the resources available and used by the state health department to manage timely contact tracing and effective containment.
     
    We continue to be hopeful that the state and county of Honolulu regulations about social gatherings and enforcement of safety measures will have an effect but we will not see the potential impact of these measures for a few weeks, due to the lag in diagnosis and incubation period of infection. We encourage our community to do what it can to adhere to safety measures and monitor the situation closely.

    Next week, we have a number of important on-campus activities to deliver technology tools to enable students to be successful with learning at home. We have had to shift away from providing in-person orientation to these tools for our K – 5 students, but will still be holding in-vehicle registration days/technology pick-ups as planned for these grade levels.

    We also remind families to notify their child’s dean if their child is infected, if there is an infection in the household, or if their child gets a COVID test, regardless of the COVID alert level. Your support in these efforts is essential to our ability to keep the community safe and healthy and attend to the educational needs of your children.
  • August 7, 2020: Message from the President's Office

    Updated August 07, 2020
     
    Dear Punahou Families,

    On Monday, we shared our intention to open the school year in Orange – a heightened alert level that meant students would alternate between on-campus and distance learning. Since then, coronavirus cases here in Hawai‘i have continued to rise at an alarming rate, leading to a review by our Pandemic Response Team.

    Based on our deep concern over recent pandemic trends, our commitment to the safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and our shared responsibility to flatten the curve, we will begin our school year in Red – a high alert level that necessitates full-time distance learning for all grade levels K – 12. We will continuously monitor pandemic conditions and provide updates to families on a weekly basis. If the situation improves, we hope to shift to a level that will allow significant on-campus learning as early as September 14. Next week, grade level deans will share information and/or reminders about what this will mean for your child, including details about scheduling for when school begins on August 19.

    We believe this is the right decision for the following reasons:
    • Hawai‘i has sustained triple digit levels of newly reported COVID-19 cases, with a seven-day average of more than 130. Our rate of new infections has increased by 200% over the last two weeks, with a reported reproductive rate of more than 1.4. These figures make Hawai‘i a state with one of the fastest growing epidemics in the country. The test positivity has also exceeded 5% several days this week, which is a level associated with World Health Organization recommendations for governments to issue stay-at-home orders.
    • The number of hospitalizations has doubled over the last two weeks, which means that our health care system will soon reach its capacity to meet both COVID and non-COVID related need. As Hawaii Pacific Health CEO Ray Vara and others have warned, this is an increasingly dire situation.
    • The State has indicated that there are challenges with keeping up with contact tracing and that they have not always been able to follow up on new cases within their standard of 24 – 48 hours. There has also been uncertainty about whether the testing capacity for on-island labs can meet the demand of reporting test results in less than three days, which is essential to support effective contact tracing.
    I have been in regular contact with the heads of the largest independent schools on the island, and they will also be starting in distance learning through September 14. Our decision also parallels today’s announcement by the governor that all public schools on O‘ahu will begin the year with distance learning for the first four weeks.

    The current situation is clearly unfortunate. We dearly wished that we could have brought all of our students back to campus as planned. We know how much your children have missed school, and we have missed them, too. As early as the spring, we have been designing our school operations to be able to respond to the full range of health conditions, up to and including a campus closure. Our distance learning capabilities have been refined and improved over the spring and summer, reinforced by teacher training, professional development, and enhanced technology, and we are confident that we will be able to deliver the continuous, excellent education that our students deserve. We have also invested heavily in health and safety measures, which will be indispensable for the secure return of students to our campus.

    To support our youngest learners as school begins, we will also provide opportunities for elementary school students to engage with their teachers in very small groups. More information about this will be forthcoming from the principal and class deans in the days ahead.

    The coronavirus trends in Hawai‘i are deeply troubling, and we all have an important role to play in taking the necessary steps to stop the spread of this virus. We all must continue to practice social distancing, the wearing of face masks outside the home, personal hygiene, such as washing hands regularly, and staying home when sick.

    With a sustained, collective effort, I believe we can and will return to conditions that allow for safe, in-person learning. If the state achieves a sustained lower level of new cases, a reduction in hospital utilization, and lower test positivity, indicating greater access to timely test results, we will be able to return to campus. Our Pandemic Response Team will continue to work closely with health officials to monitor the situation and will communicate with you weekly as we know more.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this complex and challenging situation. Punahou has weathered many storms and upheavals in its history – from past pandemics to world wars and global depressions. At each turn, we have met these challenges with resilience and faith in each other, knowing that, when we stand together, we can accomplish great things. Now is another such moment, and I have great confidence that our best days lie ahead.

    With gratitude,
    Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86
    President, Punahou School
  • July 15, 2020: Update to Return to Campus Plan for Families 2020 - 2021

     
    Aloha Punahou Families,

    With the start of the 2020 – 2021 school year a little more than a month away, we are eagerly looking forward to welcoming our students, faculty and staff back to campus. At Punahou, we will always place the health and well-being of our community as our highest priority while also recognizing the indelible social and emotional benefits that an on-campus education brings.

    Over the summer, we have been carefully putting in place the measures to safely and confidently reopen our campus. Today, we are happy to share with you our Return to Campus Update and Return to Athletics Plan, which provide detailed information about what you and your children can expect when school begins on August 19. This is an update to our original Return to Campus Plan that we sent to you on June 15.

    Our goal remains to have our students and teachers together safely on campus, because we know that is how students learn best, and to restore our unique sense of community. To accomplish this, we have made unprecedented investments in campus safety measures, reconceived our school day and campus-wide operations, and enlisted the perspectives of parents, teachers, staff, medical experts and fellow school and governmental leaders. The result is an approach that we believe confidently addresses the majority of concerns while maintaining the excellent educational experience that Punahou is known for. It is an approach that can adapt and respond to changing health conditions at any given time. We also recognize that there are those with medical conditions that may require special accommodations, and we will work with these individuals to support their needs.

    While many things will necessarily be different when school resumes in August, we will still aim to preserve a creative, innovative and welcoming learning environment for all students and teachers. Our school community will continue to demonstrate our extraordinary adaptability and resilience, just as we have done over the past 180 years.

    More than ever, I am deeply grateful to you for entrusting your children to Punahou, and we look forward to welcoming them back to our beautiful campus in a few weeks.

    Mahalo,

    Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86
    President, Punahou School
  • June 15, 2020: Return to Campus Plan for Families 2020 – 2021

    Dear Punahou Families,

    I hope this message finds you well. As we look to the start of the new school year, we have been carefully planning for the safe return of students, faculty and staff to our campus. We are eager to see your children again and to continue their educational journey together in person.

    Today, I am happy to share with you our Return to Campus Plan, which provides useful information about what students can expect when school resumes in August. This plan is the result of the work of the Pandemic Response Team, in consultation with School leadership, physicians, state health officials, and other independent schools in Hawai‘i, and I am very grateful to them.

    Our overall goal will be to calibrate our school operations and instruction to the public health conditions present at the time. This will allow Punahou to provide as much on-campus teaching and learning as possible while adapting to changing health conditions.

    While the path the pandemic will take is largely unknown, there is much that we can, and must, do as a community to support each other and ensure a safe campus environment. We all have a role to play in promoting health and safety practices for the benefit of the entire community.

    As we prepare for the fall, we will also provide you with further information. In the coming weeks, we will hold a series of online discussions with Principal McCarren, Principal Priore-Kim and me. Dr. Virginia Loo, Punahou’s Director of Planning and Analytics and formerly an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will also be answering your questions. More information about these sessions will be forthcoming.

    On behalf of all of the teachers and staff at Punahou School, I want to thank you for your continued support of your child’s education. We look forward to welcoming our students, teachers and staff back to campus this fall.

    With aloha,

    Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86
    President, Punahou School
  • June 8: Announcement Sent to Punahou Families

    Dear Punahou Families,

    As businesses and schools prepare to reopen across our state, we are carefully planning to once again welcome our students, faculty and staff back to our beautiful campus. The Parent Survey you recently submitted has been an important tool to help us design a comprehensive Return to School plan, which we will officially share with you on June 15.

    Thank you for providing your honest feedback and allowing us to listen to and learn from your perspectives. The key takeaways from the survey include the following:
    • Nearly 75% of families are either very eager or eager to be back in classrooms when we return to school this fall.
    • A majority of families (>50%) feel optimistic that the pandemic will remain under control.
    • Across the School, 33% of families feel they are only somewhat coping or not coping very well with the COVID-19 situation.
    • Some 30% of families have a household member who is at greater risk for COVID-19 due to age or an underlying health condition.
    • Families have done an incredible job to support their children while learning from home over the last few months; still, about 10% of Academy families and 20% of Junior School families are not confident about their ability to continue to adequately support student learning from home as needed.
    • Nearly half of all families stressed the achievement of learning outcomes or continuity of learning as their top concerns.
    • Across all grade levels, there is also a strong desire to implement effective health and safety measures.
    Your feedback makes two things clear: families want to know that their children are progressing academically while at the same time learning in a campus environment that is as safe as possible. As a school, we couldn’t agree more, and our forthcoming plan will provide the framework for how we plan to achieve both.

    Our planning effort has been guided by the thoughtful work of the Pandemic Response Team, a task force composed of faculty and staff representing the entire K – 12 campus. Among its members are Virginia Loo, Ph.D. ’92, Director of Strategic Planning and a professional epidemiologist formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Sarah Neal-Fujimoto, RN, who oversees the Punahou Health Center. In addition to reviewing your responses, the Pandemic Response Team members have regularly consulted with physicians, state health officials, and other independent schools in Hawai‘i so that we remain fully informed of the latest developments concerning COVID-19. To learn more about the Pandemic Response Team and its members, visit Punahou.edu/health.

    Finally, I know these have been trying times, and I want to extend my deep appreciation for your steadfast commitment to your child’s education. Across the School, our dedicated faculty and staff are redoubling their efforts to prepare for the new school year. We are eager to see your children again, and we look forward to a healthy and successful year ahead.

    Mahalo,

    Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86
    President, Punahou School
  • April 17: Announcement Sent to Punahou Families

    Dear Punahou Families,

    As we navigate this new reality of distance learning together, our School is profoundly grateful for the spirit of collaboration between our students, their families and our dedicated teachers. We understand you have questions about our plans for the remainder of the academic year and Summer School, and we want to take this opportunity to provide you with an update.

    Remainder of Academic School Year

    Punahou will continue with distance learning for the remainder of the current semester, ending on May 28. In addition, all athletics competitions have been suspended through the remainder of the school year, and traditional end-of-year large school gatherings will either be held virtually, when possible, or postponed to later dates.

    We deeply regret that we cannot be together on campus these final weeks of school; however, this decision was required by policy set forth by city and state officials. We also take seriously our own responsibility to promote the health and safety of our community. Every year, the end of the school year is a deeply meaningful time for students, families, teachers and staff, and we understand how disappointing this is for everyone. We thank you for your strength throughout this period and for your continued support of each other.

    Summer School

    Due to the uncertainty surrounding the current health situation; our commitment to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff; and the operational need to make plans now, Punahou has decided the following:
    • Academy Summer Students: For grades 9 – 12, Summer School will be offered in a distance learning format only. The majority of courses that were originally planned for the summer will be converted to a distance learning format, and we will continue to confer academic credit for these courses. The Deans will reach out to any students who are currently enrolled in courses that will not be offered in a distance learning format so that they may find alternate courses. Students who have questions regarding their Summer School plans should also contact their Deans.
    • Junior School Summer Students: For grades K – 8, much of the original Summer School program was designed for hands on, experiential learning. Unfortunately, because of the difficulty in translating this to a distance learning format, we will no longer be able to offer Summer School as originally planned. We recognize the importance of continued connection and learning in the summer, however, and have decided to design, from scratch, a new, online Summer Enrichment Program. This unique program will be offered to Punahou students who are currently in grades K – 7.
    It is our sincerest wish that we didn’t have to take these steps, but based on current conditions we believe it is the right course to take for the health and safety of our community. These steps are also similar to decisions made by fellow independent schools, such as ‘Iolani and Kamehameha, as well as the Department of Education.

    Thank you again for your patience and understanding throughout this period. Our community has never been more united, and we are confident that, together, we will emerge from this experience even stronger.

    Please take care of yourselves and each other.

    Mahalo,

    Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86
    President

    Emily McCarren
    Principal, Academy

    Paris Priore-Kim , ’76
    Principal, Junior School
  • April 17: Athletic Events

  • April 17: Distance Learning

    Punahou announces the following actions:

    Remainder of Academic School Year

    Punahou will continue with distance learning for the remainder of the current semester, ending on May 28. In addition, all athletics competitions have been suspended through the remainder of the school year, and traditional end-of-year large school gatherings will either be held virtually, when possible, or postponed to later dates.

    We deeply regret that we cannot be together on campus these final weeks of school; however, this decision was required by policy set forth by city and state officials. We also take seriously our own responsibility to promote the health and safety of our community. Every year, the end of the school year is a deeply meaningful time for students, families, teachers and staff, and we understand how disappointing this is for everyone. We thank you for your strength throughout this period and for your continued support of each other.

    Summer School

    Due to the uncertainty surrounding the current health situation; our commitment to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff; and the operational need to make plans now, Punahou has decided the following:
    • Academy Summer Students: For grades 9 – 12, Summer School will be offered in a distance learning format only. The majority of courses that were originally planned for the summer will be converted to a distance learning format, and we will continue to confer academic credit for these courses. The Deans will reach out to any students who are currently enrolled in courses that will not be offered in a distance learning format so that they may find alternate courses. Students who have questions regarding their Summer School plans should also contact their Deans.
    • Junior School Summer Students: For grades K – 8, much of the original Summer School program was designed for hands on, experiential learning. Unfortunately, because of the difficulty in translating this to a distance learning format, we will no longer be able to offer Summer School as originally planned. We recognize the importance of continued connection and learning in the summer, however, and have decided to design, from scratch, a new, online Summer Enrichment Program. This unique program will be offered to Punahou students who are currently in grades K – 7.
  • April 1: Distance Learning Update

  • March 19: Coronavirus Update

  • March 17: Distance Learning School Announcement

  • March 13: Athletic Events

  • March 13: Coronavirus Update

  • March 9: Other Ways We Are Keeping Our Community Safe

    Sanitation and Hygiene
    Our dedicated facilities team continues to thoroughly clean classrooms, bathrooms and shared spaces with a focus on doorknobs, light switches, faucets, bathroom spaces, work surfaces, student and teacher desks, classroom tables, keyboards, phones and fitness equipment.

    Signage

    We will be expanding our signage around campus with information about proper hygiene and how to avoid germ transmission.

Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns about School policy, please contact: healthresponse@punahou.edu

Support

We are aware that feelings of anxiety can be heightened in situations such as this. The American Psychological Association provides a helpful online guide for how to talk to children about difficult news.

Important Resources

The following websites provide important information about the spread of this disease along with overseas travel guidelines:

Avoiding Bias

Periods of pandemics are often accompanied by xenophobia and expressions of cultural insensitivity. These run contrary to Punahou’s core values and will not be tolerated in accordance with our school’s Code of Conduct.

The following resources help to dispel common myths and shed light on the ways in which our society might better respond to this outbreak: