COVID-19 - Updates

April 24, 2020

Good Evening Island School Families,
As I've shared previously, our Island School community values a togetherness that is unmatched.  Our values remain visible in each of our actions to support one another and our community. For example, we took early steps in January to work with our elementary Chinese exchange families due to potential travel issues to cancel the program this year. We began training teachers and transitioning to our virtual program prior to Spring Break to continue to provide an Island School education through distance learning without much interruption. In each case, our thoughtful foresight helped with little interruption. 
As we monitor daily the state and national information we want to follow these recommendations and improve our chances of returning to normal in the near future.  Governor Ige and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health continue to impose a stay-at-home order for the State of Hawai'i. 
Given this information, and in conjunction with our primary concern for the wellness of our students, families and employees, Island School will continue distance learning for the remainder of the regular academic school year (ending May 22).   Updates will continue to be sent regarding end of year events and tasks. 
We remain committed to maintaining the highest quality educational programming throughout the remainder of our extended distance learning. 
Events and Ceremonies: May 1 - May 31
We are committed to celebrating our student accomplishments, including many year-end performances, presentations, and award ceremonies. For example, last week our seniors presented their senior capstones virtually. All were recorded and we will share shortly. Teachers are currently working on virtual opportunities for Academic Awards, Athletic Banquet, Elementary move up day, Elementary talent show and May Day ceremony. Next week we will have virtual fifth and eighth grade transition meetings. While we aren't able to physically celebrate in the same space, our community spirit will be present throughout our virtual gatherings in the month of May. Details about our graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 will be released in the near future.
Programs and Events: June/July 
We are currently exploring various summer school options that may take place. We will update you regarding these options as we monitor the state's progress in community social distancing recommendations.
As with our initial decision to begin distance learning, this decision was not taken lightly. In speaking with many parents over the last few weeks, I was consistently struck by the patience and resiliency of our families. Like you, I am inspired by our alumni, students, parents, faculty and staff and how, despite many challenges, you are living the values of Island School.
I appreciate your feedback and I will continue to give updates . 
L. Shannon Graves
Head of School

April 9, 2020

April 2, 2020

As you have heard by now, Governor Ige has extended his school closing order through April 30, consistent with revised recommendations from the Center for Disease Control. Therefore, we will defer until late April, about a decision on whether Island School will be able to hold classes on campus during the remainder of this academic year. This is part of a state and nationwide strategy to slow the spread of the virus and allow the health care system to catch up with anticipated demand. Regrettably, we will not be able to resume our normal face-to-face on campus operations until that order is lifted, most likely May 4 at the earliest. 
Fortunately, as you have witnessed this week, our teachers and administrators have partnered with you and your children and have been working diligently to deliver a robust remote learning experience, an effort that we launched Monday morning. You should, by this point, have received communications from your children's teachers. Though this effort is still in the early stages, because of the energy and hard work of our faculty and staff, we have every expectation that we will be able to continue to build upon and deliver on the school’s academic mission in the weeks ahead. Inevitably, of course, challenges will arise. As hard as we have prepared over the last four weeks, we will certainly encounter some challenges. This continues to be a learning experience for all of us.  We are eager to hear your feedback – and that of your children – and that we will learn quickly and adjust our approaches as necessary. 
Obviously, the prospect of a more extended online school will require us to think creatively about other aspects of school life, particularly many of the social events that traditionally enrich the end of the academic year. We will give thoughtful consideration to how to preserve, as fully as possible, the strong sense of community that has always defined Island School. These efforts will require both creativity and flexibility, but please know that we will make every effort we can to help your children find healthy ways to stay connected to their teachers and to one another. 
I am disappointed that we all have to go through this experience and adjust our family routines as we respond to this unprecedented global challenge. As hard as we will work to minimize its impact, we have to acknowledge that this experience will be really difficult for many adults, and on our children, perhaps, most of all. I appreciate your understanding, your support and, above all, the confidence you continue to show in Island School. I will continue to stay in touch as the situation evolves. Please take care of one another and enjoy being close to your family. 
L. Shannon Graves    
Head of School

March 27, 2020

Good Morning,
I hope this email finds you and your family healthy and safe during this stay at home order. Thank you for continuing to partner with us through this unusual time. No one anticipated we would be managing our way through an historic global pandemic when we started this school year. As communities across the globe mobilize to respond to the COVID-19, we here in Hawai‘i have taken steps to flatten the curve, including our own plan to shift to distance learning. We certainly understand the uneasiness at this difficult time. We face similar challenges without receiving any state or federal funds being a non-profit school with over 80 employees. These are challenging times for our families and our school while we contend with social distancing efforts keeping us safe, yet we are left feeling isolated and separated from the friends, and family members we love. As we get set to embark upon remote learning next week, I’m touching base to provide updates on several aspects of the school’s COVID-19 continuity plan.
Island School is carefully monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak. Updates will continue to be posted on our website as developments occur. Our utmost priority is the physical and emotional health of our students, faculty, staff and the Kaua‘i community. Our decisions are based on recommendations by county, state and national health officials and are intended to minimize the risk of exposure.
Please know that Island School remains open. We are deeply committed to you and your children. The faculty and staff are working extremely hard to provide a valuable Island School learning experience for your children. As we begin teaching and learning remotely next week I am once again impressed with the faculty and their approach to lead and apply creative problem-solving strategies as they work through pedagogical and technological questions of remote learning.  Our teachers are showing exceptional dedication and creativity. They are hard at work tailoring their curriculum to the remote learning platform until we are able to return to campus.  
A few updates:
  • For those of you who need to pick up or drop off materials, we prefer you do that between 8:30 and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Administration Office.
  • Spring Break ends today, March 27 and we begin online learning Monday, March 30.  
  • Currently, the teachers continue to learn and plan for this transition next week. Our children are going to benefit from the foresight of our professional staff that began this planning process weeks ago. Today and Monday you’ll hear more from our teachers.
  • Each week teachers will post a “plan for the week,” so students and parents know what the expectations will be and can organize their time accordingly.
  • If your child becomes ill and can’t do the work, please report the absence to the teacher.
  • We have asked teachers to set aside time each day Monday-Friday for virtual office hours, during which students and parents may contact the teacher individually with questions or clarifications. The teacher will announce those hours in future communications and explain how that contact will occur.
  • We know this may be a stressful time for students and parents, so our school counselors and college counselors will have virtual office hours Monday through Friday during which students and parents may contact them individually with questions or concerns. The counselors will announce those hours in future communications and explain how that contact will occur.
  • Our Technology Team is currently working with faculty, staff and parents to help them prepare for remote instruction.  If you have a specific tech challenge that has not already been reported or answered, please email Janet Powell ( or Nathaniel Evslin( Next week, the Technology Team will announce its office hours to assist you when remote learning starts up.
  • Some of you have expressed concern for our hourly employees. Thank you for that.  They maintain work and we continue to work with them to offer them hours. 
Unless a specific situation emerges that requires communication from me, I expect most of the communication to you next week will be from the technology team and the teachers. However, I will continue with weekly updates as new developments take shape. We are monitoring our distance learning plan being extended until April 30 due to Governor Ige and Mayor Kawakami’s emergency stay at home order. 
L. Shannon Graves
Head of School   

March 20, 2020

Dear Island School ʻOhana,

As we enter these unprecedented times Island School is working hard to ensure our students still have access to the teachers and instruction that they have come to expect from us. During the students’ extended spring break, our teachers will be hard at work putting together the highest quality curriculum for distance learning. Since this will be new to our families and faculty please allow for some flexibility as we find the right balance of online and offline activities and assignments for your students. As we work on planning we wanted to get our Distance Learning Guidelines out for you to look over in preparation for our distance learning week from March 30 - April 2. As you look over this document please let us know if you have any questions.

Janet Powell and Nathaniel Evslin will be overseeing our shift to distance learning and are tapping into an extensive educator network across the state and country as resources for this change in our curriculum. We will provide additional resources that we feel may be useful to our families as they become available to us. We welcome ideas and suggestions as we move forward and will do our best to keep all of our families updated with the most current information. As always you can find the most up-to-date information about Island School’s response to Covid-19 on our website at

In preparation for all of our classes moving to distance learning we would like to hold a virtual information meeting on Wednesday, March 25th at 9:00 via this link. After that live-streamed meeting, we will be available to answer any follow-up questions that you may have via virtual conferences using this link from 10:00-1:00. 


Nathaniel Evslin - Dean of Students
Janet Powell - Technology Coordinator

March 17, 2020

Good Afternoon,
In light of the most recent public health recommendations and given the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact on our state and school-community, Island School will extend Spring Break for students through Friday, March 27, 2020, four school days longer than originally scheduled.  This change is intended to provide faculty and staff with the necessary time to finalize distance learning plans that we began preparing earlier this month for teaching and learning on-line. It is also our hope that this will help all families that traveled over the break to take proactive measures and begin self-monitoring which will help to ease some of the anxieties being felt by our students, parents and employees, while also acknowledging urgings for social distancing and reducing the potential for transmission of COVID-19.

On Friday, March 13, President Trump declared a national state of emergency and yesterday announced federally recommended guidelines for limiting gatherings to 10 people or less in the face of this pandemic. The Hawaiʻi State Department of Health also recommended that smaller gatherings held in enclosed spaces that do not allow for social distancing be postponed, canceled or held virtually. 

Distance learning will begin on Monday, March 30, 2020 - April 2, 2020.  When this occurs, online learning lesson plans and next steps will be available to families through MyVoyager (6-12) Seesaw (K-5) and COR Advantage/powered by Kaymbu Online (Pre-K) platforms.  In the meantime, we will send you a separate Distance Learning Guidelines document next week to review and welcome your questions and feedback, which can be directed to our technology authorities, Nathaniel Evslin and Janet Powell. Pre K can send questions directly to Sue Macklin. 

Once again, thank you for your trust and support. This decision was not taken lightly. We understand distance learning could present challenges for families and students, and we appreciate your patience and understanding. We remain committed to maintaining the highest possible quality educational programming, whether on campus or in virtual form. We will continue to use all available data from the CDC and DOH to determine the best course of action for our school-community and to ensure the health and well-being of our Island School community.   

As of now, we have extended spring break for one week (March 24 -March 27) and we will begin with one week of online learning (March 30 - April 2) As always, I encourage you to continue to follow our website and reach out to us with your questions and concerns, as we are evaluating this rapidly changing situation daily. Please stay well and take care of your families.

March 13, 2020

Good evening,
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your concerns and understanding as we work to respond to the rapidly changing situation regarding COVID-19.  We have been closely monitoring updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of today, March 13th, we understand that there are confirmed cases of the virus here in the State. We are planning for many scenarios, while expecting the best of a challenging situation. With that in mind, we are sharing the latest information on Island School's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.   
Please know that I am very grateful for your feedback  as we prepare for potential changes that may temporarily impact the typical ways we educate your children here at Island School.  Life has changed dramatically for many people in the United States and around the world over the past few weeks. As leaders we try to make informed decisions that are thoughtful for our larger community.   The health and safety of our entire school community continues to be our top priority. 
We understand that many families are traveling during the Spring Break holiday and thank you for keeping me posted on travel itineraries.   Per the DOH: “Any passengers having travel history to areas with widespread sustained community transmission are being asked to stay home and monitor their health for 14 days from the time they left the affected area.”
The HHSAA (Hawaii High School Athletic Association) has cancelled all games and practices beginning Monday, March 16. This decision was made to help limit the spread of the evolving coronavirus public health threat throughout the United States. We have decided to limit interaction on campus to promote social distancing and provide our cleaning staff time to continue the deep cleaning of campus. We will not have Spring Fling Elementary Spring Break Program or renters on campus next week.  

I will be on campus overseeing operations and following the COVID-19 situation next week as our front office will be open from 8:00-3:30. Please continue to look for emails as I will provide another update next week for our plan after Spring Break.  I wish you good health and thank you for your understanding as we work through these challenges together.
L. Shannon Graves
Head of School

March 11, 2020 - Resources

Good afternoon,
Many parents have asked about best practices when discussing COVID-19 with your children. Here are two resources to look through that may help with age appropriate conversations. 
Talking to Children about COVID-19 - National Association of School Nurses
Talking With Children: Tips for Parents and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
L. Shannon Graves
Head of School

March 10, 2020

Travel Advisories
  • While the CDC has not placed any travel restrictions within the United States, there has been an increase in community transmissions of COVID-19 in several states on the U.S. mainland. As of yesterday, 9 states have declared a State of Emergency related to COVID-19: Washington State, Oregon, California, Florida, New York, Maryland, Kentucky, Utah, and Hawaiʻi.
  • Island School is expanding its internal travel advisory, asking employees and families to reconsider non-essential travel from Hawaiʻi to Level 3 and 2 countries or U.S. states under a State of Emergency. If employees or families make the personal decision to travel to these areas, we ask that they share their travel plans directly with Shannon or Katie prior to departure and upon return. 
Returning to Campus After Travel
  • It is the responsibility of our employees and our families to monitor all CDC and Department of State travel restrictions and to consider the wellness and safety of the Island School community prior to returning to school.
  • Given the rapid changes involved with COVID-19 transmissions, any employee or family traveling to Level 3 and 2 countries or U.S. states under a State of Emergency may be asked by the U.S. government and/or Island School to remain at home for a 14-day period prior to returning to school.
  • Upon returning, employees and families are asked to self-assess their own risk  and in consultation with a healthcare professional. 
  • If you have questions about coming to school, you may also email shannon@ischool.organd we will do our best to respond in a timely manner.
  • Additional Restrictions: The U.S. government has imposed travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine upon returning from China and Iran. Island School will also require clearance from a healthcare professional before an employee or student can return to campus after traveling to these countries.
Let’s continue to look out for each other and stay safe.
L. Shannon Graves
Head of School

March 2, 2020

Good Morning:
We have been closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and its impact upon our school. With the wellbeing of our students, staff and families in our minds, we are implementing the following proactive measures to maintain our safe and healthy school and workplace.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies countries into three warning levels. Most recently, Italy, Iran and South Korea joined China at Level 3, which means that all non-essential travel to these countries should be avoided because of the coronavirus. Japan is currently at Level 2 because this country is experiencing sustained and ongoing spread of coronavirus. The CDC advises that older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing non-essential travel to Japan and recommends that all travelers to Japan practice enhanced precautions including monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after their return.
Health & Hygiene
First and foremost, our goal is to maintain a clean environment for our students and staff. Our cleaning service is following specific after-hour cleaning procedures that concentrate on classroom and workplace surfaces. We also make available hand sanitizers and wipes in all classrooms and offices.
In accordance with the Hawaii State Department of Health recommendations, we encourage everyone to help prevent the spread of respiratory illness, including flu, with these everyday actions, at school and at home:
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Avoid sharing cups, water bottles, chapstick or any other personal items;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces; and
  • Get an updated flu vaccination.
School policy requires students and employees to stay home when they are sick, especially if you are experiencing a fever above 100.4 degrees.
Travel and International Visitors
If you are planning to travel internationally for School-related or personal travel, we encourage you to check the CDC’s website for information for travelers to the country/countries you will visit and travel through. Also, check the US State Department travel advisories for those countries; to-date, “Do Not Travel” advisories have been issued for China, South Korea and Northern Italy because of the coronavirus outbreak. We recommend that you review the health and travel notices of the countries you will be visiting. Information about the spread of COVID-19 is changing daily as are these guidelines and advisories, so check these resources frequently. The following websites provide important information about the spread of this disease along with overseas travel guidelines:
All school-related travel and programs involving Level 2 and Level 3 countries have been suspended until the CDC lowers its travel advisory to Level 1. This includes travel to and from China, Japan, South Korea and Italy. All elementary program-related visits from China have been suspended.
With spring break just ahead, we ask Island School families of students and employees to avoid all non-essential travel to the Level 2 and Level 3 countries of China, South Korea, Italy and Japan. If you are required to travel to or through these countries, you must notify the School prior to leaving and upon your return. You may not be allowed to return to the school campus for 14 days after arriving in the United States, or other period of time as the School determines is appropriate under the circumstances. Additional steps may be necessary before your return to school including clearance from a healthcare professional. Keep in mind that the US government has also imposed restrictions on travelers returning from China, and government-imposed restrictions are of course subject to change. Also, we understand that airlines are cancelling or suspending travel to Level 2 and Level 3 countries. If you are traveling internationally, we encourage you to check the websites for the CDC, Department of State, Hawaii Department of Health and other relevant governmental agencies for up-to-date information about the countries you will visit or pass through.
Island School will continue to welcome international visitors to the school campus with the understanding that these visitors have cleared international travel and screening requirements at the federal and state levels and do not pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of our community as determined by the School. Such visitors are required to provide advance notice of their visit.
While we understand that there may be inconveniences caused by this situation, we appreciate your patience, understanding and cooperation. Our goal is to ensure the continued health and safety of our students, employees, their families and everyone in our island community. If you have any questions, please call us at 246-0233.
L. Shannon Graves
Head of School

February 26, 2020

Good Afternoon:  
Coronavirus - COVID-19 Information  
The outbreak of this respiratory disease was first detected in Wuhan City, China and which has now been detected in 37 locations internationally, including cases in the United States. The virus has been abbreviated COVID-19.  
I receive an update from Hawaii Association of Independent Schools and National Association of Independent Schools daily and other sources regarding the Coronavirus. Most information is discussing the travel concerns but we do need to take care of our own community as it will continue to spread because of travel. We need to educate our students about the importance of properly washing hands and keeping our classrooms clean. I encourage you to clean off desks and doorknobs during the day to help eliminate the spread of germs.  We are making sure soap is in all dispensers with sinks and we delivered another package of wipes last week to each classroom. We also delivered hand sanitiser to each classroom this afternoon. Please keep these in your classrooms as we have refill jugs to replenish your bottle as needed. We are posting hand washing best practices around campus from the CDC. We have been in contact with our cleaning service company and they are being diligent with upkeep of the campus cleaning. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Everyday preventive actions is still the best way to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  •   Given the time of year, it is important to remember the best way to prevent transmission of any respiratory illness (including flu) in schools is to follow everyday preventive actions: Get vaccinated against the flu. With current seasonal influenza activity, it is likely there will be confusion as persons with influenza will exhibit similar signs and symptoms such as fever and cough.     
For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website
For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.