Excerpt from The Edge Foundation

Oahu, the most populated island in the Hawaiian archipelago, rests in the Pacific Ocean nearly four thousand miles from any major landmass. Once the isolated Hawaiian Kingdom, imperialism brought on the overthrow of the monarchy and the United States sought the economic and geopolitical advantages of the Islands. Today, Hawai’i’s economy relies most heavily on tourism from North America and Asia. The Hawaiian islands are also a gathering place for people throughout Oceania, as a hub for medical care, jobs, and educational opportunities.

Lockdown in Hawai’i

At the time of this writing, Oahu is in lockdown despite being celebrated at the start of the pandemic for its quick and effective handling of the virus. As an island state, we can more easily limit entry and implement mandatory quarantines for those who do decide to enter. This is not without significant cost to the economy and jobs, however. Unemployment is staggeringly high and the inequities glaring. Island paradises come at a cost, and housing prices are notoriously high. Low-income families often live in crowded spaces making social distancing an impossibility. Thus, our most vulnerable populations, often Pacific Islanders, have a disproportionately high rate of infection from which there is little escape.

The virus affects some groups more than others, but we are all feeling its weight. Punahou School has weathered natural disasters, a depression, war, and now, a pandemic. First founded by Christian Missionaries in 1841, thanks to the gift of land from Liliha and Governor Boki, the school has withstood hardship before. Punahou is the oldest school in Hawai’i and the largest independent school in the United States with nearly 4,000 students attending kindergarten through twelfth grade. Punahou’s rich history, notable alumni, and robust programs give it a strong reputation throughout the globe. Punahou school will pull through, and hopefully, we will learn some valuable lessons along the way.

Pandemics are unpredictable, meaning that you must plan for every possible scenario. “Toggle,” “pivot,” and “flexibility” are the new buzz words. Plans get made, changed, made again, and such has been the cycle of pandemic preparedness. To put a positive spin on it, we are becoming pros at reinvention and agility.

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