Several schools were closed on Tuesday due to concerns about the smoke from the Wahiawa wildfires. The Department of Education canceled classes for the day at Iliahi Elementary, Leilehua High School, Wahiawa Elementary and Wahiawa Middle School. The closure affected nearly 3,500 students. Two private schools also closed.
"I'm really concerned because my sons have asthma. My younger son was complaining that his chest was tight and sore so we ended up evacuating and went to my mom's house in Ewa Beach," said parent Shandelle Kamoe. One of her sons attends Iliahi Elementary. The other one is a student at Wahiawa Middle School.
DOE officials said the decision to close the schools in upper Wahiawa was based on a visual assessment in the morning. Some parents wondered why other campuses such as Kaala Elementary, Wheeler Elementary, and Wheeler Middle School weren't shut down.
"I went there this morning to look and see how much smoke, if there was any smoke at those three campuses, and there wasn't," explained John Brummel, the DOE complex area superintendent for Mililani, Leilehua and Waialua.
Some parents decided to keep their children out of classes anyway. DOE officials said they're doing ongoing assessments in case the winds shift again.
"We do have the assistance of the fire chief and we appreciate his expertise and knowledge in the area. I also have the principals and they know what normal is for their school," said Brummel.
The Hawaii Department of Health is urging people who live downwind of the fires to be careful about smoke exposure, especially if they already have respiratory conditions.
“The smoke has certain toxins in it that can affect your health, including carbon monoxide, cyanide. Then the smoke itself can trigger asthma, irritate your throat, your eyes and cause other health concerns,” said Dr. Howie Klemmer of the Queen’s Medical Center.
"Just closing up all the windows as best we could, turning the fans out so they suck the air out from the house and just having the smaller fans on to get some air circulation in there ," said resident Noelani Miram.
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