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Community Protests at Kamehameha Schools Over Bluetooth Contact Tracing Badges for Students

Oct 26, 2021 | Featured, Trending, Video

This past Sunday evening social media accounts lit up, announcing an early morning protest outside the entrance to Kamehameha School Maui campus. 

The purpose was for parents, students and concerned citizens to meet before school started to voice opposition to the school’s SaferMe contact tracing program. Protestors were adamant they did not want the children to be forced to wear the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) card. 

The group, “KS Maui Advocates”, released a statement saying:

“We are showing up in support of our teachers, staff, and students. We are a group of parents that all have concerns and realize that we are not alone.  The primary topics that we would like to discuss in person, with administration include vaccine mandates for KSM Staff, a recent Bluetooth tracing tool (wearable device on a lanyard), weekly testing of only unvaccinated students, contact tracing protocol, and athletic restrictions.”

On their website, Kamehameha Schools released an informational video explaining that the SaferMe proximity monitoring program will aid in contact tracing efforts if there is a positive COVID case identified on campus.  Officials say these cards will only identify those who have been in close contact with a COVID positive individual for 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period. They also said the badges do not have the GPS capabilities that could track a person’s location or timestamps.  

Students will be required to wear the Bluetooth-enabled technology while on campus. Officials explained “any student caught without a card will be subject to disciplinary action”.  

Parents and students were also informed that due to COVID 19, this contact tracing program is considered part of healthcare and related services permissible through the General Release, Waiver of Liability, and Indemnity Agreement which parents sign at the beginning of the school year.  Kamehameha Schools stated each campus will determine whether to make an opt-out option available but cautioned that opting out of this program may require a student to switch to distance-only learning.

Kamehameha Schools detailed the plan to implement this program in phases at their Kapalama campus, in Oahu, starting on October 25 with all grade 12 students.  All students and staff in grades 7 or higher will be enrolled in the program by the week of November 29.  Program implementation for elementary students and staff is set to take place at the start of the second semester.  No detailed plans specific to the Maui campus have been released.

The wearable technology being utilized by Kamehameha Schools is the product of a New Zealand based company, SaferMe. They are the winner of New Product of the Year in Occupational Health and Safety Magazine USA.

SaferMe funding came from Grants from EASME, New Zealand and ThunderMapsLTD.

Maui PD provided the following statement: On Monday, October 25, 2021, at approximately 8:37 a.m., officers responded to Kamehameha Schools regarding about 20 people sign-waving on private property.

Participants were accommodated and moved to another area off the sidewalk where they were permitted to wave their signs.  MPD remained on scene until participants left without further incident.

A Kamehameha Schools communications representative could not be reached for comment.

About the writer

Leslie Sharp

Leslie Sharp

Leslie Sharp graduated from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in 1979 after studying accounting and business management. After the strain of her son’s long-term illness, she found herself overweight by 120 pounds. At that point, she shifted her focus to fitness training, studying health and wellness from Thomas Edison State. On Jan. 1, 2006, she moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, and achieved her dream of purchasing and operating a Curves franchise. In 2015, she obtained a national health coach certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Today, she works at OsteoStrong as a Session Technician where she uses all of her new skills to coach her senior members. During the tainted blood crisis, Sharp served as a board member of the Hepatitis C Society of Canada and was a vocal advocate for the billion-dollar compensation package for its victims. She gave numerous newspaper, television and radio interviews about the crisis and its fallout, and wrote articles that appeared in the Penticton Herald, the Pony Express Magazine and the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

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