All public schools and University of Hawaii campuses on Maui, Hawaii island, Molokai and Lanai will be closed starting today until further notice, as the islands brace for the arrival of Hurricane Lane.
Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto also canceled all after-school activities, athletics and school-related interisland travel for public schools statewide from today through the weekend.
“As with any emergency-type situation, we are striving to balance the need for safety with our overall commitment to provide students and families with every sense of normalcy,” Kishimoto said in a letter posted Tuesday. “Updates on school closures will be posted on HIDOE’s website, www.hawaiipublicschools.org and on social media — Twitter and Facebook, @HIDOE808.”
For public schools
The University of Hawaii campuses on Hawaii island and in Maui County are closed as part of the shutdown of nonessential government offices and facilities.
“Hurricane Lane could make landfall on any or multiple islands, and may bring strong winds, heavy rains, flooding, high surf and storm surges,” the university said in a news release. “All students, faculty and staff are asked to keep informed of the latest developments.”
Dormitory students will receive specific instructions from their student housing offices.
Some public school campuses will be designated as shelters during the storm, a decision that will be based on the hurricane’s path.
“It really will be driven by how many people we believe we need to shelter and which schools are in the right locations that would not put people at greater risk than if they were to stay in their current situation,” Gov. David Ige said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
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As for charter schools, most Maui County and Big Island charter schools will be closed today, but families were advised to contact their school directly to find out its status or visit the Charter School Commission’s website.
Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson assured parents that the Department of Education considers the safety of students and staff paramount and is working closely with government officials.
“I don’t think we would ever put ourselves in a position where we would have kids in school with a hurricane,” Carlson said. “The nice thing about a hurricane as opposed to fires or some of the other types of disasters we have to work with is we have some time to actually plan. We will know where that hurricane is going to go, and we will make sure the students are not in school.”
For Honolulu Waldorf High School, the storm’s approach comes all too soon. The school welcomed back students Monday after months spent cleaning up after April flooding inundated its ground floor with several inches of mud and at least a foot of water.
“We haven’t even finished all of our repairs,” Bonnie Ozaki-James, high school faculty chairwoman, said Tuesday. “The plumbers are here trying to connect up the water in seven of the new sinks that had to be put in. We’re barely recovering from the flood, and we thought, ‘Oh, great, a hurricane!’”
Staff members were busy Tuesday storing anything that could get carried away by wind or water at the campus, which is makai of Kalanianaole Highway.
“We are closing the windows, putting away plants that are in pots and anything that can blow around, trying to shelter anything that would go flying, all the loose things,” Ozaki-James said.
Other private schools are closely monitoring the storm and will keep their families informed. Punahou postponed the parent nights that had been set for this evening and Thursday night.
‘Iolani School sent letters advising parents that it was carefully watching the situation and would keep them posted. The school has generators on-site to keep refrigerators and freezers operating and is well stocked with water and nonperishable food as well as emergency supplies, spokeswoman Cathy Lee Chong said.