Hawaii’s Tier System

Picture of a swimming event

Is Actually a Class System

By: J. G.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced that we will be entering Tier 3 today, Thursday, February 25th. Progress is certainly a good thing and no doubt the residents of Oahu will be happy to be moving forward. In Mayor Blangiardi’s statement to the press he mentioned that he would like to modify the tier system, specifically in regards to youth sports. “We want to get people outside, especially our kids outside.”

Blangiardi in the past, has made additional statements supporting the notion of allowing our children to participate in “sanctioned sports.” I applaud the mayor for prioritizing our youth.

As early as April, 2020, claims were already being made that many of the new COVID-19 policies were harming our youth disproportionately. This was back when the nation was under the illusion that it would just take upwards of 2 weeks to “flatten the curve”. Despite that the rest of the nation has seemingly allowed our youth to slowly return to normal, 10 months later Hawaii is no better off than it was in April, 2020.

As of late, the only apparent requirement that enables our youth to participate in sports is their parents’ ability to pay for private school. Currently, in the Inter-Scholastic League of Honolulu (ILH) there are multiple sanctioned sports competitions that are building towards even larger-scale championship competitions. In addition to these sanctioned competitions, there are also unofficial basketball and volleyball competitions occurring between different schools. Club sports are thriving at private schools as well as private facilities. Soccer, basketball, volleyball, swimming and a slew of other club sports are happening at private facilities across the island. This is great and what our children need! The question is, why are children who can not afford to attend private school or have private club access not afforded the same opportunities? Why are our elected officials acting like this is not happening?

The Governor’s orders allow for all of this to happen. Why have the Governor’s current and previous orders allowing for this system of inequality to happen? Is it that youth sports are a main vector of Covid transmission and only private schools are capable of managing the risk? The truth is, there is almost zero link between youth sports and covid transmission.

If we actually “follow the science,” we knew as early as April and May of 2020 that children do not easily contract or spread Covid. We have known for a while that the flu is more harmful to children than Covid. Even President Joe Biden recently admitted as much during a CNN town hall, saying “Kids don’t get Covid very often, it’s unusual for that to happen.” Proponents of “following the science” could also look at a study conducted in Wisconsin in October, 2020. The study tracked 30’000 youth athletes and found one case of transmission tied to sporting practice or competition. In fact, youth athletes were shown to be less likely to contract Covid than non athletes in this particular study.

We all know that Hawaii and the rest of our nation is a classist society. COVID-19 has lifted the veil and exposed this for all to see. It begs the question why does our state value those families and children who can afford to attend private school more than those that can not afford to? Despite that they need the most assistance, children attending public schools are being treated with inequality and unfairness. “Follow the science” is a term that is easily replaced by “Sorry, only certain people can do things.” It is maddening and infuriating that we call ourselves the Aloha State, but we show the least Aloha to our keiki.

It’s time that we all took a stand on behalf of the kids. LET THE KIDS PLAY!