HSTA lava update: Leave, health and safety information

Since the beginning of the Kilauea eruptions in the east rift zone in early May and throughout the summer, the HSTA has continually consulted with the state-level DOE officials to make sure the needs and concerns of our teachers are met. In addition, the HSTA’s UniServ Directors on Hawaii Island – Rae Yamanaka and Maia Daugherty — have been supporting our members impacted by the lava flows and fumes. 

On Monday, July 23, HSTA Deputy Executive Director Andrea Eshelman met with DOE Office of Talent Management staff, including Assistant Superintendent Cindy Covell, to discuss the impact from the eruptions on the Big Island.  Here’s an update from that meeting:

1. DOE webpage for eruption news:  The DOE has created a landing page for all information about the lava eruptions.

2. Opening of school year:  It’s possible that the opening of the school year may come with significant changes in enrollment at schools on the Big Island because some families needed to relocate away from eruptions or were evacuated. The HSTA is in contact with the DOE at the state and local levels to monitor possible impacts of those enrollment changes. If teachers have questions, they should contact their respective UniServ Director.

3. Adjustments to leave records – related to the five days of consecutive paid administrative leave provided to staff impacted by the mandatory evacuations in May.   

a. The DOE has notified HSTA that teachers may submit requests to adjust or amend their leave record for May 2018 through the end of the school year.   

b. Some employees didn’t initially need the full five days but took additional personal leave later in the month related to their evacuation.  This would allow them to have their sick leave bank credited back, and use the full five days of paid administrative leave.

c. The adjustment must be for the end of the school year 17-18. There is no carrying over to school year 2018-2019.

d. If an employee would like to adjust their leave, they need to make a request to their principal who will in turn pass on to the complex area superintendent (CAS) for consideration. See an example/template here.

4. Health and Safety – The HSTA is working at the state, district and school levels as issues arise about the lava eruptions.

a. Air quality monitoring -  The state Department of Health and the Civil Defense continue to monitor air quality and advise the DOE on any necessary actions such as closure and or shelter in place.

b. All schools should have a school safety plan in place, especially related to the air quality.  Employees should have access to the plan and it should be reviewed regularly. 

c.  If a teacher and or school has a specific issue with their personal or school health and safety, they should immediately notify their administration. If the matter is not addressed, please contact your HSTA leaders on campus, and/or the respective HSTA UniServ Director for next steps.

d. Individual Health Concerns – Employees needing consultation regarding their own individual health situation may reach out to their HSTA UniServ Director.  


Author: Keoki Kerr

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