DOE announces tentative timeframe to welcome students back to West Maui schools

Three of the DOE’s Lahaina schools have been closed since the wildfires on Aug. 8.
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 5:02 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 30, 2023 at 9:00 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Three weeks after devastating wildfires tore through Lahaina town, the state Department of Education on Tuesday announced a tentative timeframe to welcome students back to West Maui schools.

Three of the DOE’s Lahaina schools — Princess Nahienaena Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate and Lahainaluna High — have been closed since the wildfires on Aug. 8.

Schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi said he expects students can return in mid-October — after fall break — pending environmental clearances.

The schools are currently undergoing environmental assessments for air, water and soil quality. Officials are also ensuring the schools have stable power and sufficient broadband connectivity.

Before schools reopen, they will also undergo a deep cleaning.

Students and staff at King Kamehameha III Elementary — which was destroyed in the fire — will share a campus with Princess Nahienaena Elementary.

Two school community meetings will be held on Wednesday. First at Citizen Church in Lahaina from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Then at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Meanwhile, some members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association have been critical of the department for coming out with plans before having a its community meetings with Lahaina families and teachers.

Osa Tui, president of HSTA’s Maui chapter, believes the department has been “stumbling in their approach.”

“Some of the discussion at the first meeting with teachers was said, ‘okay, here is what the future holds.’ But it wasn’t about ‘What do you need? How are you? How are you doing? How can we support you?’ — The nurturing and care that they needed, they didn’t feel that was right up front,” Tui explained.

Many have been expressing that they would prefer to stay in West Maui.

So far, the education department has given displaced families different options they could turn to, including temporarily enrolling into another school outside of West Maui or do distance learning.

Families and staff in need of assistance can call the Department’s support hotline at (808) 727-6880, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information, click here.