Aloha, HIDOE Community –
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Ho‘oha‘aheo Newsletter.
Reopening Lāhainā schools
It's been an exciting and emotional past few days as our Lāhainā schools welcomed students back to their West Maui campuses for the first time since the August wildfires.
I had the privilege of helping welcome students back to Lāhaināluna on Monday and felt an overwhelming sense of pride and positive energy throughout the campus. It’s clear that our Lāhainā school communities are strong and resilient. It’s been heartwarming to see faculty and staff of Lāhainā Intermediate, Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary and King Kamehameha III Elementary come together to welcome students back this week as well.
The Department is fully committed to continuing to do everything we can to support our schools and ensure the Lāhainā campuses are as safe as possible. Leading up to reopening this week, the HIDOE took the following actions:
Environmental testing: Conducted extensive environmental testing of soil and drinking water – which all came back safe.There was no visible ash at any of the schools after the fires, and the soil testing results indicate ash from the burn areas have not settled up at the schools. The Department will be continuing wipe test sampling on a bi-weekly basis in classrooms to test for any harmful particles settling on surfaces.
- Air quality: Worked with the state Department of Health and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to have air quality monitors installed outside all Lāhainā schools to detect fine particulate matter. The readings have been in the “Green/Good” level for the vast majority of time since installation weeks ago. Each school has a hand-held monitor as well. Mobile apps have been programmed to immediately notify the HIDOE’s Environmental Services Unit of any changes and a weather station has been installed at Lāhainā Intermediate to track wind patterns and trends in the area.
- Cleaning: Hired contractors to perform specialized professional cleaning of all interior and exterior spaces at the campuses.
- Evacuation route: Worked with the state Department of Transportation to expedite improvements to a 2.5-mile emergency access route that runs from the Lāhaināluna fire lane to the Lāhainā Bypass.
- Safety guidance: Worked with DOH to develop health and safety guidance outlining the necessary actions schools will take if and when conditions in air quality change.
Test results and a dashboard of all reopening actions taken are available online at: bit.ly/LahainaSchoolsProgressReport
Oct. 1 kicks off National Bullying Prevention Month and today we celebrate Unity Day which provides an opportunity for everyone to unite for kindness, acceptance and inclusion. Orange not only represents the autumn season, but is also a vibrant color of safety. Unity Day is represented by the color orange to send a visible message that no child should ever experience bullying.
In an effort to foster safe and supportive learning environments, the Department created its Here to Help program to increase the number of supportive adults on school campuses. This program includes online modules to train employees to be better equipped to engage in conversations regarding overall well-being and to identify students who might be in need of mental health assistance. Lāhainā Intermediate was selected as the Department’s first Here to Help Ambassador School
in recognition of the school’s commitment in certifying the highest ratio of staff completion of the modules and active promotion of one of the Here to Help priority areas. The Here to Help program and modules provided a strong foundation of aloha as Lāhainā Intermediate staff welcomed students back to campus on Tuesday and will help to maintain a positive, supportive school environment.
Mahalo for everyone’s support of Unity Day and all those who helped spread the Department’s message for inclusive, nurturing learning environments for all!