Emergency information for parents

Emergencies are a stressful time, but parents and caregivers should be assured that school staff is prepared through regular and updated drills. Parents and caregivers can help by doing the following:

Always be prepared for an emergency

  • Ensure that your child’s emergency contact information is accurate and current.

  • All Department schools have emergency plans. Become familiar with your school’s emergency plan and parent/guardian reunification procedures in the event of a school evacuation.

In case of a school emergency: Although your first reaction would be to call or rush to your child’s school,  please follow these tips:

  • DO NOT call or rush to your child’s school. Phone lines and staff are needed for emergency response efforts.

  • DO NOT phone your child. Staff and students are discouraged from using cell phone communication for safety reasons.

  • Tune in to local TV/Radio stations for official school news alerts.

  • Rely only on official communication from school or public safety officials.

  • Listen for official information regarding reunification with your child. Students will be released ONLY to parents/guardians who are documented as emergency contacts and who present a picture ID such as a driver’s license, military ID or passport.

Safety on Campus

We are fortunate to live in Hawaii, where incidents of violence and threatening behaviors in schools are fewer than for our Mainland counterparts. (See the Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information.)

That said, the Hawaii State Department of Education takes the safety of our schools, staff and students seriously. Students are encouraged to report any threat to a school administrator or teacher, or the police. (Again, students involved in such incidents are subject to Chapter 19, above.)

Police will be engaged when there is real or perceived danger. Administrators and staff will initiate safety protocols when incidents happen on campus, and facilitate communication with families, community groups and law enforcement when incidents involving students happen off campus.

Families should speak with their children about basic safety measures when they are out in public and do not have a trusted adult nearby:

  • Stay away from strangers, do not talk to or take anything from them.

  • Don’t go anywhere with someone you don’t know. Never accept a ride from a stranger.

  • If a stranger approaches you, seek help immediately from a trusted adult.

  • Use the buddy system; avoid walking anywhere alone.

  • If a stranger grabs you, do whatever it takes to stop the stranger, yell for help.

  • Report any suspicious activity to a trusted adult.

  • Be alert of your surroundings and let others know where you will be and what time you will be back.

We rely on the community to watch for and report suspicious activity around our campuses. Please work with our staff and/or law enforcement so that incidents are properly investigated.​​
All School's Have Emergency Plans in Place 
All schools have emergency plans and their staff must practice required drills annually; plans are reviewed and updated based on recommended improvements. Drills, which include first responders, are routinely evaluated to improve readiness. Parents/guardians, please familiarize yourselves with emergency preparedness plans at your childrens school.

School Closures​

​In the event of an all hazard or man-made emergency that prevent a school from safely operating, school principals working in tandem with the complex area superintendents make the call about whether a school needs to be closed. 

In the event of large-scale events such as a hurricane, the state office works with its partners in state and county Civil Defense to make a determination on school closures. Many school campuses are designated emergency shelters; that activation is initiated by Civil Defense. Learn more about emergency preparedness in Hawaii via the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency​.

​​​​​​Emergency drills

All schools conduct the following required drills:

Lock Down: A lockdown takes place if an internal or external threat is identified at the school. All school doors are locked and students are confined to classrooms. No entry into or exit from the school will be allowed until an “all-clear” announcement is made.

Shelter in Place: Students take refuge in designated areas to protect them from hazardous materials or severe weather. No entry into or exit from the school will be allowed until an “all-clear” announcement is made.

Off-Site Evacuation: Certain emergencies may require students and staff to evacuate the school. Evacuations are conducted when it is no longer safe to remain on campus. In the event the emergency continues and students are not able to return to campus, parent or guardian re-unification procedures will take place.

Please familiarize yourself with your school’s unification procedures.

  • Fire
  • Earthquake
  • Tsunami

Tsunami-zone schools

Schools that lie in tsunami zones practice evacuation based on a locally generated tsunami which is caused by a local earthquake, and could result in a tsunami with wave arrival between 10-30 minutes. All schools get out of the tsunami evacuation zone within 10 minutes and majority arrive at the designated site within 20 minutes.

List of public schools in Tsunami-zones are:

Oahu:  Kaaawa Elementary, Hauula Elementary, Sunset Beach Elementary, Haleiwa Elementary, Laie Elementary, Waialua Elementary, Waianae High, Waianae Intermediate, Nanaikapono Elementary, Iroquois Point Elementary, Maili Elementary, Ala Wai Elementary.

Hawaii Island:  Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary, Keaukaha Elementary, Kahakai Elementary.

Maui:  Kamehameha III Elementary.

Kauai:  Hanalei Elementary, Kekaha Elementary

Parents are directed to not come to the campus as this hinders the evacuation.