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Simcoe County school boards align PA day with eclipse

Public board will be rescheduling the April 26 PA day to April 8 for elementary students only; Catholic board moves the day to April 8 for all students

On April 8, residents across Simcoe County will be able to see a solar eclipse.

Local school boards won't risk the event overshadowing the school day, however, so the day will be a PA day for local students. 

During an update at the Simcoe County District School Board’s business and facilities committee meeting on Feb. 7, director of education John Dance updated trustees on the board’s plan to move the scheduled April 26 PA day for elementary students from April 26 to April 8, to make sure young kids are home on the day of the solar eclipse.

“(Elementary students) are right in the middle of the time of impact,” Dance told trustees. “We’ve taken a long look at this issue. Across the province, it’s taken a lot of different forms.”

The total solar eclipse is expected on April 8, when the moon aligns perfectly between Earth and the sun, and temporary darkness will sweep across eastern Canada. It is expected to occur in Simcoe County at 3:18 p.m. and last about one minute and 50 seconds.

Dance explained that the bell time for secondary students is around 2:30 p.m., so it’s not necessary to move their PA day, but with most elementary schools having a bell time between 3:10 p.m. and 3:45 p.m., the board is worried about the safety of younger students.

“Secondary students will be home before the solar eclipse takes place. We’ve taken a look at the simulations,” said Dance.

Dance said students in the public board will be educated on solar eclipses so they are aware of what will happen, as well as the “dos and don’ts” of seeing a solar eclipse.

The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board also put out information on the solar eclipse on their social media on Friday, noting their PA day would be moved from April 26 to April 8 for all students in their board — both in their secondary and elementary schools.

“Out of concern for student safety and well-being, and to mitigate operational impacts that may be caused by the solar eclipse, many school boards throughout the province have amended their existing calendars,” reads the post.