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Lava and quakes cause several East Hawaii charter schools to cancel classes

Several Hawaii public charter schools in East Hawaii will be closed Monday as the communities deal with the seismic and volcanic activity in lower Puna.

These schools will be closed Monday: Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science; Ka ‘Umeke Ka’eo; Ke Ana La’ahana; Ke Kula ‘o Nawahiokalani‘opu‘u Iki; and Kua O Ka La, according to the charter school commission website. Kua o Ka La New Century will be closed Monday and Tuesday.

However, the state Department of Education said all other public schools on the Big Island will be open Monday and operate on normal schedules. All school bus transportation will also be on a normal schedule.

“All public schools in the East Hawaii area have been inspected for earthquake damage and are safe for students’ return on Monday,” said Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. “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.”

DOE officials said students who miss school due to evacuations will not be penalized for absences, and that schools will work with affected students and families. Counseling services are also available for students and staff. Staff who will miss work due to evacuations should notify their administration offices, they said.

School officials assured the public that air quality will be monitored at schools in the area and that schools are prepared to shelter-in-place in designated locations if the air quality drops. County and health officials have been warning residents of the dangers of volcanic gases in the areas around the Leilani Estates lava inundation.

Safety protocols for earthquakes, tsunami and shelter-in-place are already established at all public schools and will be implemented if needed.

The department said schools on other islands should cancel planned school trips to the Big Island through the end of the school year as a precaution.

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