Maui News

Pūnana Leo Preschool Remains COVID-19 Free, Open Enrollment Underway

February 4, 2021, 10:30 AM HST
* Updated February 4, 10:31 AM
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Pūnana Leo o Maui and all ‘APL sites statewide have been able to safely welcome its keiki back to the classroom since last August, without any incidents of COVID-19. PC: courtesy

‘Aha Pūnana Leo reports that its Hawaiian immersion preschool sites across the state have been able to return to the classroom without incidents of COIVD-19 infections since reopening last summer.

The students and teachers returned with health and safety protocols in place, setting a precedent for their upcoming 2021-22 school year.

“We here at Pūnana Leo o Maui have flourished this year despite COVID-19,” said Kili Namau‘u, Pūnana Leo o Maui site director. “We were able to modify our physical space and provide training to staff, so that we could continue to offer a safe, rich and cultural educational environment for our keiki.” 

COVID-19 Protocol Updates

‘Aha Pūnana Leo reports that it’s COVID-19 protocol includes: creating hand sanitizing and hand washing habits before entering the classroom and throughout the day; separating and frequently disinfecting shared space areas and resources after every use; avoiding the use of items not easily disinfected (i.e. plush toys); and keeping all keiki belongings in separate, individual, labeled containers and cubbies, including pillows, blankets and face coverings, which are sent home each day for parents to clean. 

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Face masks, physical distancing and hand washing for keiki and kumu are also enforced throughout the day per CDC and DHS guidelines, and visitors including makua (parents) are no longer allowed inside the facilities, except for essential workers, when necessary.

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Sites with more capacity have also divided keiki into cohorts of no more than 12, which utilize separate learning areas to avoid sharing spaces and resources as much as possible. All in-person events, including field trips and participation in parades and fundraisers have been canceled. While hui kīpaepae (weekly language and cultural classes for parents) has transitioned online, the school reports that participation continues to remain high, at 80 percent.  

‘Aha Pūnana Leo plans to enforce its COVID-19 protocols at all of its Pūnana Leo Preschool sites statewide until further notice to ensure the ongoing health and safety of its keiki, ‘ohana and staff. 

Enrollment for 2021-22 School Year Now Open

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Pūnana Leo o Maui is able to accommodate up to 30 students for the upcoming 2021-22 school year, which will start on Aug. 2, 2021 and run through June 17, 2022. Open enrollment is now available for keiki ages two-years and eight-months-old up to six-years old. The early enrollment deadline is March 1, 2021. 

“We are grateful that we are able to have the opportunity to have face-to-face learning for our keiki,” said Pūnana Leo o Maui makua David Baily. “The hardest part is that we can only operate in groups of 10 and our keiki are unable to mingle and interact with their other hoa papa (classmates).”

New Distance Learning Program for Young Keiki

For ‘ohana interested in introducing their young keiki to ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language), or giving them a head start on learning before entering a Pūnana Leo Preschool or other Hawaiian Medium Education programs, ‘Aha Pūnana Leo is offering its Aukukui Hikaaʻo ʻOhana self-directed online learning program for preschool-aged keiki.

Born out of lessons and experiences while adjusting to distance learning last year, ‘Aha Pūnana Leo developed fun and interactive games, videos, worksheets and other resources to help keiki and their ‘ohana learn and practice ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i at home. 

‘Aha Pūnana Leo’s online program is available to any ‘ohana. The one-year subscription includes unlimited access to 12 modules and activities for $100.

For more information about Pūnana Leo Preschools, its newest Aukukui Hikaaʻo ʻOhana distancing learning, and other programs, visit www.ahapunanaleo.org.

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