East Hawaii News

DOE Announces Contingency Plans as Lava Approaches Pahoa

October 28, 2014, 7:04 AM HST
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Approximately 850 students who currently attend Pahoa public schools will be moving to the Kea’au complex as lava threatens to cut through the Pahoa community.

The Department of Education announced Monday that those students represent about 1,700 in total that reside either north or south of the approaching June 27 Kilauea lava flow. About 300 staffers are also affected.

“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 Mary Correa, Complex Superintendent for Ka’u, Kea’au, and Pahoa.

The students moving to the Kea’au school complex reside in areas north of the lava flow, such as Orchidland, Ainaloa, and Hawaiian Paradise Park. Another 850 students, living in Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Shores, Nanawale, Leilani, Kalapana, and Pahoa, will remain in Pahoa area schools.

To accommodate these changes, school closures will be in effect starting Wednesday.

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The DOE says that Keonepoko Elementary School will be closed indefinitely, effective Wednesday, as it is anticipated to be in the lava flow’s path. The school will relocate to a temporary site on the Kea’au High School campus, just above its football field. It is being called “Keonepoko North.”

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A number of schools will close on Thursday, including Pahoa High and Intermediate, Pahoa Elementary, Kea’au High, and Kea’au Middle. This will allow for time to transition new faculty onto the campus and to get administrative work done.

“The flexibility of our staff, the cooperation of our families, and the collaboration with Hawai‘i County agencies have been instrumental in making these adjustments for all schools,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayosh in a statement.

Secondary students moving to the Kea’au school complex will report to Kea’au High and Kea’au Middle schools on Friday, Nov. 7. Students moving into Keonepoko North will start attending classes on Monday, Nov. 10.

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Students remaining at their original schools will return on Nov. 10.

In addition, the DOE says that both Keonepoko and Pahoa High schools will remain polling place sites for the upcoming General Election, scheduled for Nov. 4.

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