Kahului Elementary reopens after fire damages classrooms
On Nov. 24, a fire ripped through four classrooms and two portables that housed second, third and fourth grade students. The blaze caused more than a million dollars in damage.
KAHULUI, Hawaii - Students are back in class at Kahului Elementary School on Maui. The school reopened its doors on Monday after multiple classrooms were damaged in a fire.
Maui police say an arson investigation is underway..
On Nov. 24, a fire ripped through four classrooms and two portables that housed second, third and fourth grade students. The blaze caused more than a million dollars in damage. Parent Tim Cruz says half of his son's third grade classroom was destroyed.
"He was just broken. He was just upset, it really broke his heart," Pastor Cruz said.
The school was originally set to reopen last Thursday, but was pushed back to Monday. The Hawaii Department of Education says it wanted to ensure the area was secured and safeguarded before students returned to campus.
"My grandson cried he was worried about the school," Naomi Campbell, grandparent of a child who attends Kahului Elementary School said.? "You know.. we were waiting day to day to see if he was going back to school.. we kept busy at the park, and shopping, doing homeschooling."
Some parents said while their kids enjoyed the time off, they were anxious to go back to school.
"He was very anxious about the situation of where he's going to be... was he going to have to be outside? So he had many questions," Cruz said.
Posters were up on campus welcoming students back and reminding them to "think positive" and "stay strong." Students affected by the blaze were asked to report to the cafeteria in the morning. Parents say the school made the necessary accommodations and assigned students to other classrooms for the time being.
"You know the school is really, really good, they know how to council the kids. They know how to make the kids comfortable and not afraid.. teachers were out here this morning greeting the kids.. Principal Wilhelm was also here," Campbell said.
The DOE says the plan is to get portables for the school, however, a timetable is pending. The school continues to look at what repairs will need to be made. In the meantime, the community continues to rally together to support the school. A GoFundMe has been set up by parents to raise funds for Kahului Elementary.
In addition, local cookie company, School Kine Cookies, is also helping the school out by giving back.The company is committed to matching a portion of the donations from community partners that completed its fundraising drives in fall.
"The Kahului community has been really resilient and it's been great, it's been wonderful," Cruz said.
Maui Police is still asking that anyone with information leading to the arrest and indictment of those responsible can earn cash rewards up to $1,000.