Maui School Contact Tracing Plans Spur Protests | News, Sports, Jobs

Parents of students at Kamehameha Maui schools are protesting the school’s plans to use portable devices that alert users to possible exposure to COVID-19. Schools in Kamehameha said the data will reduce the time required for manual contact tracing and help prevent larger outbreaks. – KIM CASTILLON photo

Claiming the move came without consent, some parents in Maui oppose a plan by Kamehameha Schools to require students to wear tech devices that alert users to possible exposure to COVID-19.

“The fact that they follow the kids and the way they do it is just not correct” said Kim Castillon, whose four children attended Kamehameha schools in Maui.

A few dozen people protesting the device and other COVID-19 measures at the private school gathered on the Maui campus on Monday. Another such rally is scheduled for 6:45 a.m. on Monday near the Kulamalu parking lot.

The portable device produced by SaferMe comes in the form of a card attached to a lanyard that should be worn unobstructed around the neck. Using Bluetooth technology to record when approaching another user, the maps don’t track locations or personal information and don’t come equipped with GPS, according to an email from the school to parents.

The data system will reduce the time required for manual contact tracing and increase the accuracy of the close contact information collected, which can help prevent larger outbreaks, according to the Kamehameha Schools Kapalama website.

When asked if the device is being used in other schools in Hawaii, Darren Pai, director of strategic communications for Kamehameha Schools, said he was but declined to provide examples.

“We know the other schools”, he said on Friday. “It is not appropriate to identify them.

The state Department of Education has not announced plans to implement devices, nor have many private schools on Maui.

Sienna Yoshida, whose children attend Kamehameha Maui schools, said on Friday the move was “weird” and one “Total overrun”.

“I can understand that they want to be a leader in a lot of things, but this technology, with that lens, isn’t – I don’t even think it’s pono. It doesn’t feel good.

Yoshida said she doesn’t need a Bluetooth tracker to tell her when her child has been in close contact with someone.

“I’m going to trust his good old immune system to tell me he’s sick” she said.

“The kicker is that we don’t have to consent to this”, Yoshida added. “They said we signed our previous waivers and things to enter school.”

Another parent of a student at Kamehameha Schools Maui, who asked to remain anonymous because her health work could be affected if she denounces the COVID-19 measures, said the device compromises privacy and freedom.

“What we do in the name of health triggers these very questionable practices and it becomes a gateway to things which can then become very detrimental to our privacy and our freedom” she said. “This is my concern. We’re doing this in the name of health, but what’s the next step? It could pave the way that may not be in our best interest or that of our children. “

Castillon, who worked at Kamehameha Schools Maui until 2007, said parents had not had a chance to discuss these devices before the decision to implement them.

She encouraged concerned parents to speak up.

“They need to make some noise. They need to get their attention. said Castillon. “I think that’s what the rally did. Security came and tried to stop us. The police have come. Someone who works there was trying to calm everyone down and get us away. They don’t like attention.

Responding to the rally, Pai said the school system values ​​the voices of her community.

“KS appreciates the voices of our haumana and ‘ohana, and we thank them for sharing their mana’o. “ he said. “Out of caution, Maui Police were on scene to ensure the safety of all present during the busy morning disembarkation period.”

Kamehameha Schools plan to implement SaferMe wearable device cards on a phased approach, with the Maui campus due to roll out in the third term, according to an email from the school.

Pai said deployment of the device to other campuses had just started and school officials were receiving questions about how the technology would work and implement.

“We want to listen to families and help them understand how SaferMe will help keep our campuses safe and our haumana healthy,” he said.

All students and staff, regardless of immunization status, will be required to wear the SaferMe device card as part of the in-person learning. Wearing the SaferMe contact tracing card is part of the compulsory school uniform. Any disciplinary action for not wearing the lanyard will follow procedures for a student not wearing a uniform, according to the Kamehameha Schools Kapalama website.

“The system works best when everyone in our school community participates”, Pai said.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be contacted at [email protected]

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