East Hawaii News

DOE: Keonepoko Elementary to Reopen

April 6, 2015, 10:40 AM HST
* Updated April 6, 10:42 AM
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Keonepoko Elementary School, located in Hawaiian Beaches, will reopen in the Fall, according to the Hawai’i State Department of Education on Monday morning.

Following the change in the June 27 lava flow threat level from Warning to Watch by Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawai’i County Civil Defense has called off the high-alert level of impending danger.

The elementary school was closed on Oct. 29 as threat of the lava flow knocked on its door. At the time, County of Hawai’i officials estimated that lava would cross Highway 130 as it was quickly advancing.

Students were relocated to a temporary facility in the lower parking lot at Kea’au High School. The changes caused adjusted classroom assignments for students and staff in the entire Kea’au-Ka’u-Pahoa Complex.

“Many families were affected by our contingency plans to safeguard access to education and we appreciate their cooperation and understanding through all of it,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We now have a ton of details to work out before making any official announcement on dates or assignments, however it is important to let families and staff know where we stand. The decision to reopen Keonepoko Elementary extends beyond just the facility. We want to be very thoughtful about our approach.”

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Details have yet to be finalized, but DOE officials say the aim is to have a detailed plan regarding the return to use of the elementary school by May so that families have proper time to plan for the 2015-16 school year. Officials also say that any decisions regarding employees will be made in consultation with the Hawai’i State Teachers Association, Hawai’i Government Employees Association, and the United Public Workers union.

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“We continue to evaluate what all possible futures might be for the education of children within Puna and are thinking not just about the current situation, but how to provide quality education to all of the families in our for years to come,” Complex Area Superintendent Chad Farias stated.

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