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State DOE to close some schools as lava approaches Pahoa

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The state Department of Education says it is closing some schools this week as the Kilauea lava flow approaches Pahoa.

Officials said Monday night that the pace of the flow has accelerated the implementation of DOE’s contingency plans, which will affect about 1,700 students and 300 employees starting this week.

Keonepoko Elementary School, which is potentially in the path of the lava flow, will close Wednesday indefinitely.

The Wednesday closure will allow school and DOE personnel time to complete administrative work in preparation of the new facility to receive students, school officials said.

The work will also include moving the school, furniture and equipment to the Keonepoko North facility at Keaau High School from Wednesday through Friday.

On Thursday, there also will be no school for students at Pahoa High & Intermediate, Pahoa Elementary, Keaau High and Keaau Middle to allow administrators, faculty & staff from those schools to help with administrative work and prepare for the transition of students affected by the move, officials said.

According to the DOE’s plans:

>> About 850 Pahoa students who reside north of the flow — Orchidland, Ainaloa, Hawaiian Paradise Park — are moving to the Keaau complex.

>> About 850 students who reside south of the flow — Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Shores, Nanawale, Leilani, Kalapana and Pahoa — will attend Pahoa High & Intermediate or Pahoa Elementary and report to school on Nov. 10.

>> The Pahoa secondary students moving to Keaau complex will report to their new campuses at Keaau High and Keaau Middle on Nov. 7.

>> Keonepoko and Pahoa Elementary students who are moving will report to their new school at Keonepoko North on Nov. 10.

DOE?officials said that the students who remain at Pahoa High & Intermediate, and Pahoa Elementary will report to school on Nov. 10. Students who are enrolled at Keaau High and Keaau Middle will return to school on Nov. 10.

They said DOE teams have been working with the community to build a temporary school to be named “Keonepoko North” for elementary students at Keaau High’s parking lot, accommodating at least 17 classrooms.

Keonepoko and Pahoa High School will remain as election polling sites for the General Election on Nov. 4, officials said.

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