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Hawaii News

Kauai students from flood areas will start school year at temporary campus

  • JAMM AQUINO / APRIL 17

    Flooded homes in Wainiha, Kauai. Many students who live in flood-affected areas will attend school in temporary classrooms.

Close to 30 students who live in areas of Kauai’s north shore still recovering from mid-April flooding will start the school year next week just as they ended the last one: in temporary classrooms at the Hanalei Colony Resort.

Flooding from heavy rainfall destroyed a number of homes and caused more than a dozen landslides that cut off portions of Kuhio Highway, which connects the remote communities of Wainiha and Haena to Hanalei and beyond.

As emergency repairs continue at two primary road sites and three bridges, the state Department of Transportation has been running multiple daily vehicle convoys through the work areas to provide limited access to local traffic until the highway is fully reopened in October.

Department of Education Kauai Complex Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki said some parents remain anxious about traveling on the damaged highway and/or are still dealing with the flood damage to their homes and other disaster-related issues.

KAUAI SCHOOL NOTES

>> Open house and meeting at 7 p.m. Monday for parents of Wainiha and Haena students who will be attending satellite campus at Hanalei Colony Resort.
>> For updated convoy schedule, effective Monday, visit hidot.hawaii.gov.
>> For information on school bus service, call Kauai Student Transportation Branch at 241-7120.

“One of the major challenges for Haena families has been getting their keiki to and from school in Hanalei,” he said.

Approximately 83 DOE students live in the flood-affected areas and normally attend either Hanalei Elementary, Kapaa Middle School or Kapaa High School. In the aftermath of the April storm, the Hanalei Colony Resort in Wainiha, which is temporarily closed due to the highway situation, hosted students for four to five weeks until the end of the school year.

At that time, attendance averaged 45 students a day, including high schoolers, according to Arakaki.

At least 24 elementary school kids and three middle schoolers from Wainiha and Haena will start the 2018-2019 school year at the satellite campus, while an additional 31 will be returning to their regular schools and 25 hadn’t confirmed their plans, he said Thursday.

A July 27 fire that gutted a building at the resort did not affect the sections of the property the DOE plans to use. Of greater concern for Arakaki is filling nine temporary full- and part-time positions at the satellite campus, including four teachers and custodial and office staff, and securing supplies, technology and other needs.

“For me the main thing is to put the pieces together to support the children and families. … We want to get it done so we can start the year for the students and welcome them back to school,” he said.

DOE officials had hoped to complete hiring and classroom setup so instruction could start Monday, but the first day has been put off until Tuesday. An open house and parent meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the resort.

With such a small number of students, some grade levels will be combined as appropriate. Lunch will be prepared at the resort’s Opakapaka Grill & Bar, as previously done.

To provide for students’ emotional well-being in the wake of the disaster, counselors and psychologists will visit weekly “to see how students and teachers are doing,” Arakaki said.

Starting Monday, the DOT will put into effect a new schedule of conveniently timed convoys, with the first leaving from Wainiha at 5:50 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Working with the transportation agency, the DOE announced a revised bus schedule for students living in Wainiha and Haena that enables them to get to school in time for the breakfast service.

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