By Derek Inoshita
As elementary schools continue to increase their in-person learning, Hanalei Elementary on Kauaʻi has had one of the most difficult transitions into the fourth quarter.
Following days of heavy rains, a massive landslide at Hanalei Hill brought tons of rocks, soil and trees down the adjacent slope into the valley below, covering Kūhiō Highway and blocking all traffic to North Kauaʻi just two days before spring break.
During the break week, as the state Department of Transportation worked to stabilize the hillside, Hanalei teachers and staff were working to distribute nearly three dozen laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to families on both sides of the landslide closure for students needing to return to full distance learning while the highway repair work continued.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, on top of expanding COVID-19 safety measures to acommodate more in-person students, Hanalei Elementary adjusted its daily routines — including its transportation, food and custodial services — to adapt to limited access hours dictated by a staggered one-lane highway contraflow schedule.
“The majority of students are now riding the buses to reduce pressure on the community. We added two additional buses to handle the spike in riders and have also been promoting carpooling,” Principal Tony Sines said. “Staff meetings have shifted to all-virtual, as our team needs to leave campus when the buses leave in order to make it through the contraflow with the eastbound convoy, and are conducted once staff members arrive safely at home.”
Even with the continuing impacts of the landslide, 90% of students have returned for in-person learning in the fourth quarter and more are anticipated as the highway repairs progress.
“Everything is going extremely well and is as close to 'normal' as possible, with students being extremely excited to see their peers and teachers on a daily basis,” Principal Sines said. “I would like to simply say THANK YOU to our entire Hanalei ‘ohana. We have an amazing and extremely resilient community, one that I am honored to be part of. And as we know — ʻTogether we can.’”