HSTA monitors lava threat; works with DOE to help teachers and students

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee traveled to Hawaii Island Tuesday to meet with teachers in some of the schools affected by the lava outbreaks. He also spoke with Hilo Chapter’s HSTA leaders at the last RA of the school year. Teachers were able to share additional information with Corey and HSTA staff so we can better support and direct efforts to support our HSTA ohana affected by the lava outbreaks.

Among the efforts HSTA is pursuing and working on:

  • Hilo Chapter continues to coordinate efforts to donate food, water, household items, children’s toys, books and clothing to distribute to affected teachers and their families. You can also drop off donations during the work day at HSTA’s Hilo office, 101 Aupuni Street, Suite 219.
  • Teachers  who need help or would like to offer help to others, please contact us and we will help get you in touch with each other, via social media or one-on-one. Call Rae Yamanaka, the UniServ Director in HSTA’s Hilo office, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), on her mobile (808) 365-6979 or her office phone (808) 935-9301 for more information.
  • Teachers are asked to remind colleagues in need to apply for emergency $1,000 interest-free loans from HSTA. The application and instructions are here.

  • HSTA is working with NEA Member Benefits to determine what if any resources and support the National Education Association can provide. The NEA has activated its Disaster Relief Program for Hawaii Island members affected by the disaster.
  • HSTA is working with DOE leadership at the state and district level to ensure that proper and adequate emergency procedures and communications are in place.
  • The HSTA has confirmed the following information with DOE:

    Any teacher who lives in an area affected by the mandatory evacuation may request up to five consecutive days of paid administrative leave to address their personal matters related to the evacuation. Teachers must make the request of their principal.

    HSTA has made a number of specific requests of the DOE in the last week, and will follow up on the efforts as we move through the end of the school year.  Those requests include:

    DOE ensure staff members are provided and aware of protocols for emergency plans as well as the opportunity to meet to answer questions and/or discuss additional concerns not addressed in the school emergency plan.

    DOE fully explain to staff the steps being taken to assess school/campus risk to health and safety and the process for determining a school will close.

    The DOE consider additional communication methods with staff and families such as a text messaging system to ensure more timely communication, especially for things such as closing schools.

    The DOE provide the necessary and adequate resources for school shelter-in-place situations be provided, such as masks,  food, water, materials to seal windows and provisions for emergency restroom/toileting.

    The DOE consider if air-conditioning or air purifiers could be provided to affected schools.

    The DOE has put out two memos in the last week about the situation:

    Update on Activity at Kilauea


    Kilauea Update: Ash Concerns, Employee Assistance


    Widowed just two years ago, Pahoa Elementary School Teacher Amber Makuakane lost her Puna home to the lava, one of the first structures claimed my Madame Pele. She and her two children—ages 4 and 6—evacuated from their Leilani Estates home on Friday, May 4.

    Makuakane now is working to find a place to rent while paying for her mortgage and replacing the basics of life. She and her family escaped with three trash bags of clothes, a few towels and blankets, a cooler, the kids’ bikes, a grill and important documents. Otherwise, they have nothing left.

    Her teacher colleagues have set up a GoFundMe page for Makuakane which had raised $57,336 as of midday on May 9.

    “Please extend a huge mahalo to HSTA and my fellow colleagues for the outpouring of love and support,” she said. “It is evident that the aloha spirit is alive and well here in Hawaii. I am truly blessed to be a member of HSTA and a teacher at Pahoa Elementary!”