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 got even better last week and averaged 93%. There were no elevated temperatures detected upon arrival.
  • There were also no new notifications of COVID infections or exposures among K-5 students last week.

Updated 10/27/20

Grades 6 – 8

  • Compliance with the Daily Health Check-in App was at 90% last week. Great job CMS families! There were no elevated temperatures detected upon arrival.
  • Several families have notified us of their child's exposure to a person infected with COVID and we have worked with them to ensure their family is following our quarantine policy. We are happy to report these affected students continue to be healthy. We are not aware of any on-campus exposures last week.

Updated 10/27/20

Academy

  • Compliance with the Daily Health Check-in App improved last week to 86%. There were no elevated temperatures detected upon arrival
  • We also did not receive any new notifications of infected students or those exposed to a person infected with COVID.

Updated 10/27/20

Weekly Health Update

October 23, 2020

Dear Punahou Families,

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.

Mahalo,
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 24 items.

  • 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 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: