In all likelihood this will be my last letter to all of you as the principal of Nu‘uanu Elementary School. I feel some sadness, some happiness, and a lot of satisfaction in having been the principal here. I have met and spoken to so many nice, kind, and wonderful individuals here that after all these many years I can still say I appreciate all of you. I am 100% certain that I could not have asked to be at a better school!
I’m not sure if any of you have ever come up to walk on campus and looked around before (sorry, but you can’t do this now). This is the one activity that I’ve done for 14 years and am never tired of doing it. There is something very special about the beauty and serenity that Nu‘uanu offers. When it rains you can hear the droplets hitting the ground and it is so soothing, just like listening to a waterfall, and often the rain creates a rainbow making this experience even more special. Then, add how quiet it is and the cool temperatures we usually have, and I know I will always miss these special experiences.
Oh well, life goes on…
I know I wrote about it last week but just a reminder that if you’re traveling out of state be sure to heed the Department of Health and Hawai‘i State mandates when you return in regards to what you need to do before your child is allowed back in school. Be sure to check online for the latest information for the current protocol as that seems to change weekly. These changes are necessary as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to go up and down, so it behooves everybody to do their part to insure that these numbers stay low.
I cannot say exactly when grade 3 will be allowed to return to school as that will be directly related to the number of COVID-19 cases that occur after the winter break. If state is still in Tier 2 or Tier 3 then grade 3 can be expected back on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. If all goes well and the COVID-19 numbers flattens or goes lower we can then expect grade 4 to come back three weeks later or on February 8, 2021. Grade 5 will follow so they should be returning around March 1, 2021. Our school will inform you on these returning dates as the time gets closer.
Please keep in mind that when the students do come back that we all follow the drop off and pickup schedule that are already established. For grade 3 the start of their day is 8:00 a.m., the same as grade 1, so it’s best to come to school between 7:40 – 7:55 a.m. When they arrive at school they will sit in the gym (an adult will be there to watch and excuse them) and they go to class when it’s near 8:00 a.m. Grades K, 1, and 2 students will continue to wait in front of the cafe before being allowed to go to their respective classrooms at their scheduled times.
On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, grade 3, like grade 1, will be released after school at 2:15 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Wednesday). For parents picking up their 1st or 3rd graders, please do not come too early or park in the circle driveway. The driveway area is being used to help students into their cars which are already there. So if you are parked and waiting for your child who is still in class you will be blocking the pickup area. For grades 1 and 3 it’s best to come between 2:15 – 2:25 p.m. as no other grades should be down there. All students will be sitting in front of the cafe.
When you drive up, the adults helping there will call your child’s name and the student will come to the curb to be picked up. Be sure you have the strip of paper that we passed out with your child’s name and grade written in large bold black ink and put on the dashboard of your car. This way we will know sooner who you are coming to pick up so that we can call that student down to the curbside. Merely pointing at a child does not help as we have no idea who you are pointing at when the students are all together. If you do not have this strip of paper please ask the adults that are helping for one.
One last word on this, as much as possible when you drive up, please stay behind the car in front of you in the driveway. I have seen too many times a car trying to pass and cut in front of the car ahead of them. This usually causes backups as the passing car cannot fit completely in the space near the curb, so the rear of the car is sticking out blocking part of the driveway and no one can pass by. Being patient can also avoid accidents and, please show some courtesy to your fellow parents/drivers.
For families who want and are looking for Geographical Exemption (GE) next year, please be aware that the first day you can file for this is after January 6, 2021. Unlike in previous years where you filled out the GE form and left it at the school your child is currently enrolled in with a self-addressed stamped envelope, in all likelihood this process will change. There is no official word on how this will be handled right now, but rest assured that information will be coming out soon and the schools will inform all families. There is no selection criteria based on when you submit your GE request so you can relax and know that as long as you submit forms by March 1, 2021 your child will have an equal chance in being selected.
Mahalo Nui Loa to all the Nu‘uanu ‘ohana for your continued support for your child and school. Nu‘uanu School, ‘Aikane o Nu‘uanu and ‘ohana no ka oi!
James A. Toyooka
Aloha Nu'uanu Families,
I have gathered a number of items (see attachments and below) that might be of interest to you and your family.
Please look them over, some are time sensitive, you may find something fun and educational to do.
Nu'uanu School Breakfast and Lunch Menus
Moolelo and a Lullaby - Story Reading - December 7
Anxiety in Children - Symptom Chart
Parent Support Group Resource
2 Kokua Hawaii Foundation flyers
The first week of face-to-face instructions with grade1 students went well. At first, students were unsure of what to do, but now in the middle of the following week, things look much better. Students are now talking in the cafe and playing with each other more during recess. Morning drop off and afternoon pickup protocols are both coming along nicely too.
This will all change again starting on Monday, November 16th, as our kindergarten students will be coming back to school for face-to-face instructions. Because of the increase in students attending on campus and the lack of socialization amongst kindergarteners, we expect some behavior and social issues. I need to emphasize several points in order to make this transition as smooth as possible for these kindergarteners.
First, parents will not be allowed to take their child to the classroom so please be sure your child knows their teacher’s name and classroom number. They will be shown to their room by adult helpers and we will line them up according to their teachers. Kindergarten classes do not start until 8:10 a.m. so there is no need to rush them to school. Best time to drop them off will be between 7:45 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. as the grade 1 students should have been taken to their rooms (around 7:50 a.m.) so there will be lots more room at the cafe. There should be less cars and traffic at this time. Please remember to drive slowly. Adult helpers will be by the curbside to help your child out of the car as well as taking a quick no touch temperature check.
What is important and will help make this transition back to school as painless as possible is the after school pickup. For kindergarten students, school ends at 2:25 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and 1:40 p.m. on Wednesdays. However, if you arrive early “do not park” and stay in your car waiting for your child in the circle driveway. Grade 1 parents will be using this driveway and spaces to get their children and they are here between 2:15 p.m. – 2:25 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and 1:30 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. on Wednesday. If you get here early, please park and wait in the lower parking lot until your child’s school day ends. If your child is enrolled in the A+ program, please be sure to pick them no later than 5:30 p.m.
For pick up, all the students will be sitting on chairs arranged on the patio in front of the cafe. When you are driving up be sure to have those slips of paper with your child’s name and grade (room number) clearly and boldly written in large print on it. If you do not have this slip of paper ask one of the adult helpers and we will give one to you. Do not leave your car! Please be sure to look around to make sure other cars are not overtaking or passing you on your left side. This driveway was meant for two cars to use at the same time. There should be not as much traffic, so drive slowly, be careful, and be courteous.
If everything goes well and there is no spike in the COVID-19 spread, our next step will be to have grade 2 students returning for face-to-face instructions in mid-December, date to be announced. Just be aware that all of this is subject to change as the health and safety of all our students and staff is our first priority.
Currently the YMCA does offer before school care (BSC), but a heads up is that it might be in jeopardy unless enrollment increases. We all understand that many families cannot use this service since their child is not currently in school, but I would recommend a phone call to Jon Cho (541-5275) of Nu‘uanu YMCA to let him know that you will be utilizing their program as soon as your child is permitted to come to school. Otherwise, with the lack of numbers, this program will not be offered here.
It might be a moot point by now, but please know that at Nu‘uanu we never used Acellus as a standalone and exclusive teaching program. If or when we did use it, it was a supplemental program and none of our teachers used it more than once or if at all.
Last thing you all need to be aware of is if you plan to have your child continue distance learning (DL) you will need to do the same for the remainder of this school year. Currently all DL students must remain in that category until this semester ends. No official word on this yet, but if you still opt to do DL then you may have to notify the school. I will let everybody know about this as soon as the school is made aware of it. If you decide that you will not continue to do DL then let your child’s teacher know by November 30th.
Reasoning for this can become problematic for any teacher to have students switching on them during the course of the school year. At best, the teacher will likely be making changes to their lesson plans and at worst, your child might have a totally different teacher. Either way it requires adaptation to the way they are learning and some students can do this better than others.
Please know, but he does not want to make this public knowledge, at the end of this year, December 31, 2020, Andrew Shimada will be retiring as our Cafeteria Manager. He has been here for about 10 years. After graduating from Nu‘uanu, Iolani and the University of Washington, he has held many diverse jobs before settling in on cooking. He was a cook in the private sector for years before moving to the state in this same capacity. We wish him well and will sincerely miss him.
The first day of the reopening of school, with Grade 1 - Cohort A in attendance, went about as smoothly as I could have hoped for. The morning drop off started to trickle in at about 7:15 a.m. with the bulk of parents coming in from 7:30 a.m. onward. We arranged our schedule so we would bring students to their classrooms from 7:50 a.m. so timing for all this worked out well.
The Grade 1 teachers were super on it again and brought down carts to help bring the students’ supplies up to their classrooms, as well as introducing themselves to them. Not unexpected, many of the students were quiet and looked nervous. This same behavior was still present during their first recess.
It’s interesting to note that kids from two classrooms played in the field area near their classrooms, but after a few minutes, most of them walked back to the walkway saying it was too hot. In less than 10 minutes all of them were standing in the covered walkway. Apparently many of them didn’t play much outside while at home, but that was to be expected.
They all had lunch in the cafe, and by then, most of them felt okay with being in school. You could see and hear them talking to each other and there was lots of smiling. After lunch, most forgot their lunch routine of throwing their plates away, going back into the cafe and walking out through the makai doors and waiting outside. Instead, they started walking out through the kitchen door and we had to stop to redirect them.
Afternoon pick up also went well. School ended at 2:15 p.m. and most families did not drive up to the circle area until after 2:20 p.m. This is good because the students did not get down to the front of the cafe until a little after 2:20 p.m. so families didn’t have to wait very long. What helped a lot were those strips of paper with their child’s name on it. We had several adults down at the circle, so when we saw the names we could call out that child’s name and escort them to their car. The A+ program was also present at the school so we took students enrolled in that program to their leader. By 2:30 p.m. nearly all the students either went home or were in A+. Only a few non-Grade 1 students were left waiting to be picked up by their families.
The take away from this first day is that parents did not panic and that they brought their child to school in the morning as they did on previous days – even though that day was 7 months ago. All the kids were a little nervous at first but adjusted and acted more normal as the day progressed. School ended on time and parents did not rush to school before school ended so there was little traffic holdup. Those strips of paper with their child’s name on it helped a great deal as we didn’t have to ask the driver for a name and they didn’t have to roll down their windows. All in all, it was a good start!
The second day with Cohort B pretty much mirrored Monday. Students were quiet in the morning, tentative in playing during the first recess, and became more relaxed during lunchtime. I spoke to a few of them and they agreed that it was good seeing and talking to their friends in person.
The afternoon pickup also went well with A+ getting their groups quickly and that there were not so many cars. The take away from day two was that some families needed those strips of paper, so if you do not have one, please ask for it. Write the name and grade of your child on it in big bold letters as this helps those by the circle driveway to see their names quickly. If possible, prop this strip upwards on the front window so we can read it easier. It is difficult to see the name when the strip is laying flat on the front dashboard.
Right now, with only Grade 1 attending, we can guess some of the names of students, but later on when more students return to school, not being able to see the name or grade will make this task much more difficult.
For families interested in early morning care, please know that the Nu‘uanu YMCA is running the program this year. Hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. daily. You can contact the YMCA directly for information.
Please do not forget that on Wednesdays, unless school changes it for a special reason, we end school at 1:30 p.m. I realize that many of you might have forgotten this with all the changes going on.
October 13, 2020
The attachment to this eblast is a letter from the DOE regarding the Acellus program. Middle and high schools will still be using it for credit recovery, but many elementary schools will either stop using it or curb its use.
At Nu‘uanu School, we barely used it before the controversy started. We are using it even less now. We felt that some of the components, like Math and Science, are nonjudgmental so could be used, but avoided using their Social Studies and Language Arts contents as that seemed to be the areas of contention. We would stop using it altogether but, since we paid nearly $14,000 for it and the fact that the company will not refund our money, we will only use a few sections of their curriculum.
From the very onset, we have been using the programs - Stepping Stones, Wonders, IXL, iReady and will continue to do so. We’ve since added Brain Pop and Brain Pop Jr., and more of IXL (math, language arts, social studies components) so our students have not been victim to any false or misleading information from Acellus.
On a happier note we will reopen for face-to-face instructions starting Monday, October 26, 2020. Grade 1 will be the first group coming back. Some heads up on how this works, not all of the grade 1 students will come back at one time, but will be coming back in cohorts. On the first week, Cohort A will have face-to-face instructions on Monday and Thursday, and Cohort B on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. The following week Cohort A will be in school on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and Cohort B on Tuesday and Friday. Wednesdays will be the alternating day every week.
School’s start and end times will be staggered for the remainder of the school year. Grade 1 will start school at 8:00 a.m. and end at 2:15 p.m. every day except on Wednesday when they end at 1:30 p.m. Please do not drop off or pick your child up from the classrooms. Even if you are coming from the Dowsett Street side of campus in the morning, do not go to their classroom, but bring your child to the patio area in front of the cafe.
We will escort all of the grade 1 students up at one time starting at 7:50 a.m. If you are late, report to the office.
Be sure and check your child every morning before bringing him/her to school. Check for fever, runny nose, body aches, coughing, and all 12 symptoms that might indicate COVID-19 illness. See List at the end of this letter. (ref.: HIDOE Return to Learn: Health & Safety Handbook, Version 8, Oct. 9, 2020) If your child has any of these symptoms while at school we will call you to pick him/her up immediately.
We will have adult supervisors stationed in front of the cafe from 7:30 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. in the morning and from when school ends to 2:25 p.m. daily (1:40 p.m. on Wednesdays). All students will be sitting on chairs placed under/near the walkway. Please do not forget to place those strips of paper with your child’s grade and name written on it and placed on your car’s dashboard so we can see it when you are driving up in the circle driveway.
If we all follow the above rules and protocol, we will have a safe and healthy reopening for everybody - students, families, and school staff.
DAILY WELLNESS CHECK AT HOME
All HIDOE staff, contracted service providers, visitors and students must complete a wellness check each morning before going to the school/office.
STEP 1: Check for Symptoms of Illness
If you/your child has any symptoms of illness - do not go to the school/office. Check for the following:
❏ Fever (a temperature of 100°F or higher)
❏ Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
❏ Fatigue (tiredness, weakness)
❏ Muscle or body aches
❏ New loss of taste or smell
❏ Sore throat
❏ Congestion or runny nose
❏ Nausea or vomiting (stomach ache)
STEP 2: Check for Recent COVID-19 Exposure
If you/your child are in quarantine, live in the same household or have had close contact (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) with someone with COVID-19, or are waiting for COVID-19 test results - do not go to the school/office until quarantine is completed or you are cleared by a health care provider.