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Open Enrollment for Punana Leo Preschools

PUHI — Since implementing strict health and safety protocols at its preschool campuses statewide last summer, ‘Aha Punana Leo keiki and kumu have been able to return to the classroom and continue to engage and thrive in safe-learning honua (environments).

Open enrollment is on for the 2021-22 school year.

Without incidents of COVID-19 infections at any of its statewide sites since reopening, Punana Leo Preschools have set a precedent for the 2021-22 school year.

“We here at Punana Leo o Kaua‘i feel the protocols are necessary to protect not only our keiki but to protect our kupuna and other possible frail family members as well,” said Waialoha Fernandes, Punana Leo o Kaua‘i site director.

“There are many keiki at our honua who live in multi-generational homes, so the steps we take here hopefully extend out for the greater good of all.”

Keeping in line with federal Centers for Disease Control and state Department of Human Services guidelines for child-care facilities, APL has taken rigorous steps to sanitize and keep all of its preschool sites clean by creating hand-sanitizing and handwashing 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.

Face masks, physical-distancing and hand-washing for keiki and kumu are also strictly 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.

Sites with more capacity have also divided keiki into cohorts of no more than 12, which utilize separate learning honua to avoid sharing spaces and resources as much as possible.

All in-person events, including field trips and participation in parades and fundraisers, have also been canceled. While hui kipaepae (weekly language and cultural classes for parents) has transitioned online, participation continues to remain high, at 80%.

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

Punana Leo o Kaua‘i is able to operate at full capacity and continue to accommodate up to 36 keiki for the 2021-22 school year, which will start on Aug. 2 and run through June 17, 2022. Open enrollment is now available for keiki ages 2 years and 8 months up to 6 years. The early enrollment deadline is March 1, 2021.

“Ka‘onohihiwahiwa, the youngest of our five keiki, is thriving in her first year at Punana Leo,” said makua Erin Cobb-Adams.

“With the uncertainties COVID-19 has brought, we are so thankful that our keiki has a safe and nurturing place to begin her education. Things are definitely different than the previous seven years that our family has been at kula (school), but the staff has done their very best to keep us engaged and updated regularly.”

For ‘ohana interested in introducing their young keiki to ‘olelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language) or giving them a head start on learning before entering a Punana Leo Preschool or other Hawaiian-medium education programs, APL is offering its Aukukui Hikaa‘o ‘Ohana self-directed online learning program for preschool-aged keiki.

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

APL’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 Punana Leo Preschools, its newest Aukukui Hikaa‘o ‘Ohana distancing learning, and other programs, visit ahapunanaleo.org.
Source: The Garden Island

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