Video: Schools respond to Puna Lava Flow


The June 27th lava flow — named for the day it began erupting from a vent on Kilauea’s Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater — moved steadily northeast through forests toward populated areas. By late summer, U.S. Geological Survey updates made it clear that lower Puna, including Pahoa town, could be impacted. Video provides snapshots of how schools, staff and students adapted during a state of emergency.


Since the end of August, the Department of Education has been preparing for lava to claim the main road into lower Puna. Lower Puna is home to two Complexes — Pahoa and Keaau. Plans were put in place for the affected 1,700 students and 300 employees. This included:

  • Closing an elementary school that sat in the projected path of the lava flow (Keonepoko Elementary) and reassigning schools for hundreds of Pahoa students;
  • building a temporary elementary school campus (Keonepoko North) in the lower parking lot of Keaau High; and
  • issuing emergency assignments to staff; and communicating those plans to all involved.

Students transitioning to new schools got a warm welcome from their peers on Nov. 7. Additionally, at Keaau High technology played a valuable role. University Lab School students teamed with Keaau High students to build dynamic map of KHS for about 200 Pahoa High students who relocated there. The map includes Google Glass tours of the buildings, links to videos and pictures for context, photospheres (360 degree views) of classrooms and more. (See the ULS blog post​ for more.)

On Nov. 10, the day that lava claimed its first Pahoa home, the Department opened its temporary elementary school, and completed the transition of students who lived north and south of the flow.

"Shows what we can accomplish when all cylinders are firing," said Deputy Supt. Ronn Nozoe, at the Nov. 18 Board of Education meeting, where the video was played.

Contact Information

Communications and Community Affairs Office

Phone: 808-586-3232



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