For solar eclipse on April 8, some US schools will be closed for the day

Many schools across the U.S. are rethinking their class schedules for April 8, 2024 — the day a solar eclipse will hit North America.

The eclipse’s line of totality — the areas where the sun will experience total coverage — will span 15 states, according to NASA.

The eclipse route will travel from Mexico, arching northeast from Texas to Ohio before reaching Canada and going back into Maine.

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Many school districts, and even some universities, that lie in the direct path of the eclipse have already planned to close school for the day or cancel classes out of concern for students’ safety.

For example, the Brighton School District in Rochester, New York, announced a few days ago to its community, “We are going to close fully on Monday, April 8, for the eclipse,” as noted on its website.

In Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Vermont, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, an array of schools reportedly plan to have alternative school schedules on April 8.

The path of totality and partial contours crossing the U.S. for the 2024 total solar eclipse occurring on April 8, 2024, as mapped by NASA. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

These districts and institutions have taken into consideration how total darkness may be a safety hazard, as commuters and bus drivers could be distracted on the roads.

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Some schools have also expressed concerns about unsafe viewing, as watching a solar eclipse without proper eyewear could lead to permanent eye damage.

Livingston Public Schools in Livingston, New Jersey, released a notice on March 6 from school superintendent Matthew Block, who alerted the district to an early dismissal schedule for eclipse day.

Several school districts have expressed safety concerns about eclipse viewing and traffic. (iStock)

“Several community members have expressed concern about the solar eclipse,” the superintendent said.

“Since the eclipse will occur during our regularly scheduled school dismissal times, many of our students would be outside and unsupervised during the eclipse.”

He added, “Unless children are properly supervised, they could be drawn to look at the eclipse, and would likely do so that day at dismissal. Without the proper equipment, this can cause damage to their eyes.”

He also said, “Our [district] physician added that the glare and distraction caused by the solar eclipse could also present a challenge with driving during this time, which might negatively impact the safety of our parents, staff and bus drivers.”

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In Kyle, Texas, the Hays Consolidated Independent School District is taking the whole day off.

In a statement sent to Fox News Digital, Hays CISD said the decision to close was at the request of the county and emergency management officials due to safety concerns around traffic control and crowd management.

An astrophysicist suggested that eclipse travelers could “possibly cause dangerous conditions on the roads in some places.” (iStock)

“Of concern to us, as well, is both: (1) should an emergency occur on one of our campuses that day, the response may be delayed; and (2) that our school buses and student drop-off and pick-up traffic could contribute to road congestion,” the statement read.

“We enjoy a very strong partnership with the men and women in law enforcement and first-response professions who keep us safe. We are happy to help them in this instance by closing school.”

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Hays CISD mentioned that there have already been enough eclipse glasses purchased for every student and staff member, which will be sent home with “fun activities and assignments for eclipse day.”

Schools in Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other states are shutting down on April 8, 2024, due to the rare eclipse that will occur that afternoon. (iStock)

Erie Public Schools in Erie, Pennsylvania, will also close schools on April 8, according to a statement sent to Fox News Digital.

“Erie is the only major city in Pennsylvania lucky enough to be in the path of totality for the April 8 total solar eclipse, an event that is expected to draw a significant number of visitors to the region,” the school district shared.

“To help mitigate what will likely be unprecedented travel and traffic challenges, that day will be a non-attendance day for Erie’s Public Schools students and a professional development day for staff.”

Dr. Bill Blair, an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, agreed that shutting down schools due to increased traffic concerns is “certainly within the purview of local officials.”

“There is no inherent danger from the eclipse itself as long as people don’t look directly at the sun before totality,” he said.

Parents should practice safe eclipse viewing while their kids are home, experts advised. (iStock)

He said he hoped that “schools and teachers can hammer that fact home ahead of time so that kids and parents know this.”

In areas where the weather is cloudy, some people may make “last-minute efforts to get to where they think it might be clear,” added Blair, who recently retired from working on the James Webb Telescope.

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This could potentially cause dangerous conditions on the roads in some places, he warned.

“With the eclipse happening in the mid-afternoon, when buses might be traveling, I can see why some school systems might make the choice to close.”

The University of Vermont announced that it will cancel regular classes on April 8 – and instead will offer an “alternative instruction day.”

The University of Vermont announced that it will cancel regular classes on April 8 – and instead will offer an “alternative instruction day.” (iStock)

“Vermont’s only full solar eclipse of this century offers a unique opportunity for integrative learning experiences across disciplines and campus units,” UVM wrote in a statement sent to Fox News Digital.

“April 8, 2024, has been designated as an alternative instruction day, during which regularly scheduled classes will not be held.”

The statement continued, “Instead, faculty will be able to select from a range of opportunities for integrative learning and alternative instruction related to the solar eclipse.”

“The organizing committee will work with campus partners to provide academic programming around the theme of the solar eclipse and online resources to support these efforts.”

Kent State University has a full section of its website devoted to the eclipse, noting, “On April 8, 2024, Kent State will be in the path of totality for a total solar eclipse. We will join Northeast Ohio in observing this truly once-in-a-lifetime celestial event.”

It adds, “Leading up to the eclipse, Kent State will offer educational, interactive and dynamic events for students, alumni and community members. On the day of the eclipse, we will offer a variety of viewing locations, planetarium shows and more.” It also notes that remote classes will still take place.

However, “in-person classes will not meet in person, but instructors teaching in person have the option to conduct an asynchronous remote session or assign appropriate asynchronous work.”

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com.com/lifestyle.

Angelica Stabile is a lifestyle writer for Fox News Digital.

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