How to support Maui students returning to school after the wildfires

King Keakaulike High will begin a phased reopening this week with some students back on campus on Wednesday
Updated: Aug. 21, 2023 at 5:00 AM HST
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MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - More students affected by the Maui wildfires will soon be headed back to school.

King Kekaulike High School will begin a phased reopening this week with some students back on campus on Wednesday.

The Department of Education says about 400 displaced West Maui students have enrolled in other schools, while 200 have elected for distance learning.

Britt Young, licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of XPLOR Counseling, joined HNN’s Sunrise Weekends with advice for supporting children who experienced trauma from the wildfires.

She says some children may feel excited about getting back to class while others may feel anxious about going back to a place where they may not see all of their classmates.

“As parents what you can do is simply listen to your children, you want to acknowledge what they are feeling, and then reinforce and validate that it is okay to feel that way… for young children especially parents may want to consider going with them into the classroom for a bit maybe help them reintegrate that way… if they have a familiar item like a teddy bear or something that is meaningful to them and brings them comfort that may be okay to let them bring it into the classroom,” Young said.

Young says some behavior is normal such as disturbed sleep, nightmares, and sadness, but advises loved ones, teachers and community members to look out for prolonged periods of anxiety, excessive worry, change of conduct, aggression or withdrawal, and self harm.