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The Conversation

Ready or Not, Back-to-School Traffic Jams Are Right Around the Corner

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You may have already noticed more cars on the road as workers are called back into the office, but be prepared for more traffic in the coming weeks as thousands of Hawaiʻi students and teachers return to the classroom.

Thousands of public school teachers will be back in their classrooms Wednesday to start the new academic year. On Aug. 3, public school students across the islands will follow.

The University of Hawaiʻi’s first day is Aug. 23. While the university has walked back a policy on mandatory in-person classes, it believes a good majority of professors will be back on campus.

Among the larger private schools in the Honolulu area, Hawaii Baptist Academy begins Aug. 2, Kamehameha Schools - Kapālama Campus and Sacred Hearts Academy start on Aug. 9, Mid-Pacific Institute on Aug. 10, Maryknoll School on Aug. 11, Punahou School on Aug. 18, and ʻIolani School on Aug. 24.

Jai Cunningham, spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation, had some tips to prepare for the back-to-school traffic jams.

"If for a year and a half you enjoyed your drive to town being 20 or 30 minutes less, you might want to remember to add that back," he said.

"Just a heads up — especially our friends over at the University of Hawaiʻi Manoa. It's such a heavy commuter school that once they're back in about that third week of August, you are likely to really see a pretty dramatic shift in morning and afternoon commutes, but especially morning commute, as so many of the students drive cars."

Cunningham said commuters could consider carpooling or using public transportation — but most of all, be sure to plan ahead.

"And make sure you keep an eye out for the keiki out there, because kindergarteners all the way up to high schoolers are going to be back out walking to school," he told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

This segment aired on The Conversation on July 26, 2021.

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