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The school year is about to begin for students in Hawaii. If you’re wondering exactly when classes start up again, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Public schools in Hawaii typically start the academic year in early-to-mid August, around a week or so after the Aloha State reopens for tourism in July. The 2023-2024 school year is slated to commence on August 7th.

Overview of the Academic Calendar in Hawaii

School Year Definition

The school year in Hawaii typically starts in early August and runs through late May or early June, comprising around 180 instructional days. The state defines the minimum school year as 180 days or 1,080 student hours for grades 1-12.

Schools usually take a three month summer break from early June through late July/early August before starting the new school year.

Summer Break

Hawaii’s summer break tends to be slightly longer than other states, likely due to the year-round warm climate. Students get around 11-12 weeks off in the summer, allowing plenty of time for family vacations, summer camps, relaxation at the beach, and other fun activities before heading back to the classroom.

The early August start date allows families to take summer trips without missing school.

Holidays and Vacations

In addition to summer break, Hawaii schools observe several holidays and vacations throughout the year. These include:

  • Labor Day (early September)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Break (late November)
  • Winter Break (late December through early January)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January)
  • Presidents’ Day (third Monday in February)
  • Spring Break (March or April, varies by school)
  • Good Friday and Easter Monday
  • Memorial Day (last Monday in May)

The abundance of vacations allows students and teachers time to recharge as needed throughout the school year. Families also appreciate the opportunities for travel, cultural celebrations, and spending time together.

When Do Classes Officially Resume?

Start Dates by Island

School start dates in Hawaii vary by island, with schools on Oahu typically starting in early August, while schools on the Neighbor Islands generally resume classes in the first week of September after Labor Day weekend.

For example, in the 2023-2024 school year, Oahu public schools will commence on August 1st, while Hawaii Island, Kauai, and Maui schools will begin September 4th.

Staggered Starts to Avoid Traffic

Many Hawaii schools utilize staggered start dates within the first 1-2 weeks of the school year to help alleviate the initial back-to-school traffic surge. Elementary grades frequently start first, followed by intermediate and then high school grades.

This staggered schedule allows families to navigate campus logistics before the full student body returns. Some schools even stagger start times by individual grades on the first day back to ease congestion.

First Day Requirements

Students are expected to arrive on time and prepared on the first day with all required supplies and paperwork completed. This usually entails bringing pencils, paper, and any grade-specific materials; submitting health forms and policy agreements; and having access to technology if devices will be utilized.

Some schools host orientation sessions before the official start where families can complete requisite steps. Most campuses strongly encourage parents to walk younger children to their classrooms on day one to ease first-day nerves.

Preparing for Back to School

Purchase Supplies Early

Getting ready for the new school year in Hawaii can be exciting, but also requires some planning ahead. One of the best things families can do is purchase school supplies early, ideally in July or early August before the rush.

Many stores like Walmart, Target, and Office Depot have back-to-school sales on items like pencils, pens, notebooks, backpacks, lunchboxes, and more. Buying early ensures you get the best selection at the lowest prices.

It’s also wise to find out from your child’s school what specific supplies will be needed for their grade level. Many schools in Hawaii post supply lists online in the summer months. You’ll want to stock up on items like tissue boxes, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer that teachers often request for classroom use.

Arranging Transportation

Figuring out transportation to and from school is key. Many families have a parent or caregiver drive kids to school or walk with them if they live close by. However, over 37% of students in Hawaii take the school bus based on a 2021 Department of Education report.

If that’s your family’s plan, visit your school district’s website as early as possible to learn about bus routes, schedules, and registering your child.

Some middle school and high school students may ride public transportation. Review the bus or train routes ahead of time with your child so they feel comfortable. And don’t forget to arrange who will pick them up after school gets out, whether it’s a parent, sitter, relative or a school program.

Review Safety Procedures

Before the first day of school, parents should review safety rules at home. For example, go over guidelines like not talking to strangers, sticking close to classmates or the teacher while walking to/from school, and reporting any bullying or concerning behaviors.

Elementary kids should know parents’ contact information.

It’s also vital for families to understand their school’s emergency protocols. Read the student handbook and visit the school website to learn about fire/evacuation drills, lockdown procedures, evacuation sites, etc. Hawaii public schools take emergency preparedness extremely seriously.

Knowing policies ahead of time helps ensure all runs smoothly.


The excitement of a new school year brings fresh starts for students in Hawaii. With the school start date varying slightly by island, most public schools welcome kids back in early August after the summer break.

Teachers, staff, and families can take steps like buying supplies early to ensure a smooth transition.

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