Big Island school closures ahead of lava

Pahoa High and Intermediate School

Parents and Children Together announced Tuesday that PACT Head Start Keonepoko and Hawaiian Beaches classrooms on Hawaii Island are closed indefinitely due to the impending lava flow. For questions or more information, call (808) 847-3285.

Meanwhile the Hawaii State Department of Education is closing some schools ahead of the rapidly advancing Kilauea lava flow on the Hawaii Island.

Officials say the pace of the flow has accelerated the implementation of DOE’s contingency plans, which will affect about 1,700 students and 300 employees beginning this week.

Mary Correa, complex superintendent for Kau, Keaau, Pahoa, has announced that beginning Wednesday, Oct. 29, there will be no school for students at Keonepoko Elementary School.

This is to allow DOE faculty, staff, administrators, facilities’ teams enough time to complete administrative work in preparation of the new facility to receive students. The work will also include moving the school, furniture and equipment to the Keonepoko North facility at Keaau High School from Wednesday through Friday, Oct. 29-31, and longer as needed.

Wednesday will mark the indefinite closure of Keonepoko as it is in the anticipated path of the lava flow.

Additionally, beginning on Thursday, Oct. 30, there will be no school for students at Pahoa High and Intermediate, Pahoa Elementary, Keaau High and Keaau Middle to allow administrators, faculty and staff from those schools to help with administrative work and prepare for the transition of students affected by the move.

"The end of Spirit Week at Pahoa Elementary also marked the last time students gathered before closing this week in preparation for the advancing Puna Lava Flow." - HDOE
“The end of Spirit Week at Pahoa Elementary also marked the last time students gathered before closing this week in preparation for the advancing Puna Lava Flow.” – HDOE

About 850 Pahoa students who reside north of the flow (Orchidland, Ainaloa, Hawaiian Paradise Park) are moving to the Keaau complex. About 850 students who reside south of the flow (Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Shores, Nanawale, Leilani, Kalapana and Pahoa) will attend Pahoa High and Intermediate or Pahoa Elementary and report to school on Monday, Nov. 10. Bus pickup sites will be disseminated Tuesday.

The Pahoa secondary students moving to Keaau complex will report to their new campuses at Keaau High and Keaau Middle on Friday, Nov. 7. Keonepoko and Pahoa Elementary students who are moving will report to their new school at Keonepoko North on Monday, Nov. 10.

The students who remain at Pahoa High and Intermediate, and Pahoa Elementary will report to school on Monday, Nov. 10. Students who are currently enrolled at Keaau High and Keaau Middle will return to school on Monday, Nov. 10.

“Our teachers and principals have been tremendous in their efforts to maintain a sense of normalcy in our schools, all while preparing for this week,” said Correa.

Last month, the DOE announced it was allowing teachers and students to continue teaching and learning, while making plans to accommodate them at alternate sites.

The DOE and its teams have been working with many in the community to erect a temporary school to be named “Keonepoko North” for elementary students at Keaau High’s parking lot that would accommodate at least 17 classrooms.

“The flexibility of our staff, the cooperation of our families, and the collaboration with Hawaii County agencies have been instrumental in making these adjustments for all schools,” stated Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

Keonepoko and Pahoa High School will remain as election polling sites for the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

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