Over 250 Lāhainā students from King Kamehameha III Elementary, Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary and Lāhainā Intermediate were in attendance today for the opening of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education’s (HIDOE) distance learning hub. The learning hub, located at Citizen Church in Kahana, provides students enrolled in distance learning with in-person opportunities for teacher support and peer socialization, as well as access to meals, social-emotional learning and other resources.
“We’ve been working really hard with the staff to get ready for today and I think the payoff was in seeing the kids again — they were so happy to be here and see their teachers, see each other, and it was really great to see the parents too,” King Kamehameha III Elementary Principal Jennifer Everett said. “We’ve also allowed our teachers to have some instructional freedom to do some other art activities, other enrichment activities, social emotional learning, and just to have fun with the kids because right now all they really need is some aloha and some love to get back into the routine.”
Participating students enrolled in asynchronous distance learning (self-paced schedule for accessing lessons and assignments) and were assigned to small groups by grade level. Groups spent their sessions on a rotating schedule, which included introductions of students and staff, a tour of the facilities, classroom time, balanced snacks and recess. Students were provided with laptops to take home for their distance learning assignments.
“Here, we have Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary, King Kamehameha III Elementary, as well as Lāhainā Intermediate School, and one of the things that that we noticed today with not just our staff but also our students is, although we come from three different schools at the end of the day we are one Lāhainā community,” Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary Principal Gary Kanamori said. “From our parents dropping their students off for the first time, for some of our kindergarten parents, dropping off for the first time, and our wonderful teachers … they’re taking care of all the kids like their very own.”
Staff began meeting at the site Sept. 14 to plan and prepare for students. In addition to administrators and teaching staff, the hub site includes a health aide station, counselors and behavioral health specialists.
Parent Kaleka Manoha said the learning hub provides an opportunity for students to interact with familiar faces to help them process everything that they are going through. “It was just very warming seeing the kids — a lot of them had smiles on their face, a few of them were there were a little nervous when they saw everybody here, but for the most part, I think all students just had a smile,” said Manoha, who is also curriculum coordinator for Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena.
Citizen Church officials said being able to provide a learning space for students aligned with their efforts to best serve the community.
“In the beginning, you know, it was sheltering people and feeding people, and we still feed people, but at the same time we’ve seen a huge need for the students to be able to go back to school. And because we do have the facility, I think we were uniquely qualified in this case to be able to help,” Juan Trevino, campus associate pastor for Citizen Church said.
King Kamehameha III Elementary, Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary and Lāhainā Intermediate students already enrolled in distance learning or who want to enroll in distance learning to attend the hub can apply at bit.ly/DLHubApply. Incoming applications will be considered based on available space. For more information, view this flyer, call (808) 866-8432, or email MauiDLhub@k12.hi.us.
The Department is also offering a West Maui learning hub for high-needs, special education students and one for Kaiapuni Hawaiian language immersion K-8 students. Families are being contacted directly to register for these hubs.
Lāhaināluna High has been open to students for in-person instruction at Kūlanihākoʻi High since Sept. 14. The Department remains on-track with its goal of welcoming students back to the three West Maui campuses after fall break in mid-October. The Department's online status updates on the reopening of Lāhainā schools as well as a report on the enrollment status of Lāhainā students can be accessed at bit.ly/LahainaSchoolsProgressReport.
Families who need assistance can call the Department’s support hotline at (808) 727-6880 or text SUPPORT to (808) 736-1427, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.