BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Schools in the Pahoa area of the Big Island have been closed for weeks after eruptions started spewing lava in communities near Kilauea's east rift zone. And now, there are growing concerns about massive eruptions at Kilauea's summit, sending plumes of ash and toxic gases into the air.
On Thursday morning, after an explosive eruption sent a plume of ash about 30,000 feet into the sky, officials decided to close schools due to higher sulfur dioxide levels. Those schools include:
- Pahoa High and Intermediate School
- Pahoa Elementary
- Keonepoko Elementary School
- Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science
- Volcano School of Arts and Sciences
- Na Wai Ola Public Charter School
- Ke Kula O Nawahiokalaniopuuiki, only grades K-4 are impacted
Big Island public schools are also taking the following precautions and accommodations:
► All state complexes outside of the Hiko-Waiakea and Kau-Keaau-Pahoa complex areas have been advised to cancel any class trips to the Big Island through the end of the school year as a precaution.
► Students who miss school due to evacuations will not be disciplined for their absences, and schools plan to work with student evacuees and their families to address any missed learning requirements.
► Staff who have to miss school due to evacuations are advised to notify their respective administrative offices.
► HIDOE officials said that air quality will be continue being monitored at all public schools, and that schools are prepared to utilize designated shelter-in-place locations — should air quality drop. Other safety protocols such as those for earthquakes and tsunamis, are established and will be implemented if needed.
► Additional counseling services are also available for public school students and staff.
"All schools and staff will remain prepared for the unexpected and initiate established earthquake, shelter-in-place and evacuation safety procedures, should the need arise," said Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, in a news release.
This story may be updated.