The Board of Education on Thursday voted to delay the reopening of public schools by two weeks ― until Aug. 17.

The extra time is designed to give teachers, principals, and other staff members time to prepare for the return of students to campuses and train on distance learning tools.

The state Education Department had hoped to reopen public school campuses on Aug. 4.

But as the date neared, educators raised growing concerns about the planned return, saying schools were simply not return to welcome students back safely.

At the same time, new COVID-19 infections continue to rapidly grow.

Hundreds of people testified at the Board of Education before their vote and many said a delay was prudent to ensure schools were reopening safely.

But some expressed concern about students missing more instructional time.

Hawaii’s public school campuses closed in March and the state Department of Education has acknowledged spotty success in reaching its 180,000 public school students through distance learning.

“I find myself in a really really difficult situation,” said schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. “It’s been a four and half months gap and we’re adding two weeks to it.”

HNN Staff/ Hawaii News Now