As Cases Spike On Lanai, School Moves To Distance Learning

Oct 25, 2020

Lanai High and Elementary School has switched to distance learning as the COVID-19 outbreak on the island grows and Maui County officials await approval to impose a stay-at-home order on the island starting Tuesday. 

The Hawaii Department of Education on Friday said there were 15 confirmed student cases and no staff cases at the school.

The department said in a statement that the school is taking precautions, notifying potential close contacts and relaying information to the state health department, which is the lead agency for contact tracing.

Areas of the campus affected by the cases are being closed for two weeks and professional cleaning and sanitization would be brought in as needed, the department said.

The school announced Wednesday it would transition to full distance learning effective Thursday and until further notice.

The school's 570 tudents had been provided instruction through a mix of in-person classes and distance learning for students kindergarten through 5th grade and complete distance learning for secondary grades.

Meanwhile, Gov. David Ige is expected to green light a stay-at-home order for the island starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. The order would require residents and visitors to remain at home or in their lodgings except for essential needs, such as grocery shopping and medical appointments. 

Travel to and from Lanai by air and ferry is also restricted, the county said. All travelers other than essential workers and those flying for medical reasons will need to quarantine for 14 days.

Yesterday, drive-through testing was conducted at the old Dole Administration Building in Lanai City. Testing is also available by appointment at the Lanai Community Health Center, 808-565-6919, or the Straub Medical Center's Lanai Clinic, 808-565-6423.

The outbreak on Lanai is worrisome because state and county officials say the island’s healthcare system is not equipped to handle a surge in virus patients. 

 

The number of cases at last report stood at 65, but more infections are expected.

 

“Many of us are of the opinion that you don’t have a double-digit number of cases on Lanai, you have a triple-digit number of cases on Lanai," Maui Health Emergency Medicine Chairman Dr. Lee Weiss said.

 

As much as 10% of the island's population could test positive for the virus by this week, Weiss said.

 

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

 

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

 

Associated Press contributed to this report.