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Canada Closing Several Schools So Kids Can Stay Inside During Eclipse

School’s out on April 8 for many kids in the U.S. and Canada. On that date, a full solar eclipse will be visible from Texas to Ontario, and “There are risks associated with viewing a solar eclipse,” several Toronto-area school boards announced.

Those schools moved their May 17 kid-free professional development day to April 8 “to ensure that students will not be outdoors during the total solar eclipse.”

How prudent! That way their kids are protected from accidentally getting interested in science!

“I am baffled, dismayed, and hugely disappointed by this decision,” a Toronto area school administer wrote us to say. “It is misguided to keep children inside when they could be seeing this event. However, risk-aversion and groupthink are leading the process.”

It does sound that way – in Canada. But elsewhere on the eclipse’s path, schools are closing for seemingly the opposite reason: In order to make sure kids do go outside and have plenty of time to watch the gods display how displeased they are with us. (“Eclipse” comes from the Greek word for abandonment.)

“Buffalo Public Schools students will have the day off to view the total solar eclipse,” reports KTLA. (Of course, freezing Buffalo students already know plenty about the gods’ displeasure.)

Buffalo is also expecting an influx of tourists who’ll be watching the late afternoon eclipse at just about the time kids would be getting out of school, so the day off is a traffic-calming measure as well.

Many Ohio schools in the eclipse’s path are also closing, too, or letting kids out early to make sure they get a chance to see it. Although: Couldn’t a school have all the kids just go out to the playground with pinhole projectors or those solar glasses and enjoy it en masse? And at school, someone could announce: “It’s time!” and the kids could look up – because, according to the National Park Service, you actually CAN look at an eclipse safely with your naked eyes during the 2-4 minutes that it is total. (Who knew?)

That’s how some schools in Texas are leaning: While school is being cancelled in some towns, in others, they’re making the solar spectacle the focus of the school day.

And Arkansas? You can hardly blame it for closing an enormous number of schools in anticipation of a million visitors. The state’s non-eclipse population is 3 million.

But in Canada, the rationale is simply that kids shouldn’t be outside when the eclipse makes it dark and also tempting to look up. As the school boards announced, “Looking directly at the sun, without appropriate protection, can lead to severe eye damage or loss of eyesight, even during an eclipse.” Who wants to deal with that?

The liabilty gods are looking with great pleasure on Toronto.

PS!  Here is the note from the Toronto School Board:

Dear Parents, Guardians and Caregivers,

We want to share important information about an upcoming Professional Activity (PA) Day at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). The PA Day originally scheduled for Friday, April 19, 2024 has been rescheduled and will now occur on Monday, April 8, 2024.

We are making this adjustment — approved during last night’s regular Board meeting — due to potential safety concerns with regard to a rare total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, 2024, that will put parts of Ontario into temporary darkness.

As the eclipse will occur around the dismissal times of many schools, there were concerns that children would be outside and possibly looking directly at the sun, which without appropriate protection, can lead to serious problems such as partial or complete loss of eyesight. There were also traffic-related concerns as students could be walking home in temporary darkness.

This decision, which was made following guidance and consultation with the Ministry of Education, is in line with similar changes announced by other school boards in the Greater Toronto and Golden Horseshoe Area, including the Toronto Catholic District School Board, with which we share student transportation services.

For more information about the Total Solar Eclipse, including how to view it safely, please review information from the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

We understand that this change may impact families’ plans for the upcoming PA Day; however, our top priority is always the safety and well-being of our students.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding.

3 Responses to Canada Closing Several Schools So Kids Can Stay Inside During Eclipse

  1. Michael Gentle February 1, 2024 at 2:23 pm #

    Oh Canada, how you disappoint me …

  2. Mel T February 1, 2024 at 8:00 pm #

    Personally and scientifically, it is wrong. Here is an opportunity to see a lifetime event. Any parent or school teacher or official should not ban children to go out and have a moment of excitement seeing what the total solar eclipse is all about. All that can be accomplished with children is to explain to them that, DO NOT WATCH THE SOLAR ECLIPSE WITHOUT EYE PROTECTION. I feel that it is OK to tell them of the dangers beforehand and make certain they have the necessary protective gear to protect their eyes. Yes, by all means this is crucial. I am sure children will abide by this at their age of understanding. I certainly will be watching it; hopefully it will be a cloudless day.

  3. Mel T. February 1, 2024 at 8:13 pm #

    Why Canada? You are our next door neighbor. This is a rare opportunity for an event of a lifetime. Yes, by all means, protection to the eyes is vital. Not doing so can cause blindness. As long as children are warned about this and understand it, there shouldn’t be a problem. Of course, it does matter of how old they are and supervision is a must as well. I live 40 miles from you and I cannot wait to experience this event. I just hope that it will be a cloudless sky.