The Gleaner

Why throw shade on the school board’s decision?

The Valley is in line for a celestial show during the total eclipse set to take place on April 8. Local astronomers have been anticipating this date for years, and for good reason. The moon will pass perfectly in front of the sun causing a tremendous shadow to fall over the earth along the path of totality. For the first time since 1932, we are directly in line. It won’t happen again for another 181 years. The circumstances are perfect, except for one small detail. The timing of this extremely rare phenomenon is not especially convenient.

The New Frontiers School Board has announced all elementary and secondary schools will be closed on April 8. The partial eclipse begins at 2:13 p.m. and the event will continue until 4:36 p.m. This coincides with the usual dismissal times for schools. It is an unfortunate quandary. As a result, the NFSB has wisely decided not to add to the end of day chaos by tasking staff with ensuring students are wearing protective glasses while being ushered onto waiting busses. It is too much to expect that bus drivers, who are charged with watching the road and delivering our children safely home, will also be able to monitor who may be looking out their window.

The news of the school closures caused quite the stir online after it was posted to social media. Some were positive, but a flurry of comments bemoaned the decision, suggesting the NFSB had succumbed to a culture of risk aversion and was wasting a learning opportunity for students. I am certain there are teachers who relish the chance to talk about this rare astronomical event in their classrooms, leading up to and after the eclipse. They still can.

Let’s be clear. It is not the total eclipse that is the problem. It is the danger the two periods of partial eclipse pose to our eyes. To be honest, I am not sure that I trust myself not to look at the sun. I fully understand the reasons not to, and don’t especially want to test whether science is right in saying that I will burn holes in my retinas by staring at the disappearing sun. I can’t be so sure that my rather stubborn kindergartener won’t sneak a peak. It’s natural. I am glad to know she will be by my side under my watchful and properly protected eyes. I am also happy this responsibility is not falling on the shoulders of her school employees, who, let’s face it, have enough to manage.
Sarah Rennie

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