Toronto District School Board votes to cancel classes on day of solar eclipse

Click to play video: 'Solar eclipse behind growing list of school boards rescheduling PA day'
Solar eclipse behind growing list of school boards rescheduling PA day
WATCH: A rare celestial event on April 8th has become the latest topic of discussion among GTA school boards. The list of school boards rescheduling their PA days to coincide with a total solar eclipse keeps growing. This leaves many wondering why, and what the potential danger is. Noor Ra’fat Ibrahim reports – Jan 31, 2024

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has approved a staff recommendation of changing the date of an upcoming Professional Activity Day (PA Day) to coincide with a rare solar eclipse set to rise above parts of Canada.

On Wednesday, TDSB trustees voted in favour (21-1) of a staff recommendation to move the PA Day from Friday, April 19, to Monday, April 8, to align with the total solar eclipse “out of an abundance of caution.”

The TDSB is now joining multiple boards in the province, as well as two school service centres in Quebec, that have already notified parents’ classes are cancelled on April 8 in preparation for the celestial event.

In the TDSB’s recommendation, staff stated that some school boards in regions directly affected by the eclipse had already submitted school year calendars identifying April 8 as a PA Day, “out of concern for student safety and well-being, and to mitigate any operational impacts that may be caused by the eclipse.”

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The TDSB joins the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, Peel District School Board, Durham District School Board, Halton Catholic District School Board and Halton District School Board.

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“Looking directly at the sun during the eclipse, without appropriate protection, can lead to serious problems such as partial or complete loss of eyesight,” TDSB staff said in the board’s recommendation.

The board also said there were “traffic-related safety concerns,” as thousands of children would be returning home at the end of the school day in temporary darkness.

When the rare total solar eclipse occurs, it will create a temporary darkness over certain parts of Ontario, explained the TDSB in its recommendation.

“Although the eclipse’s trajectory will mostly impact Southern and Eastern Ontario, people outside this trajectory will be able to observe a partial solar eclipse, during which the sun is not hidden in totality.”

Ilana MacDonald of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto told Global News that the eclipse won’t be “all that dangerous” in Toronto.

Cities on the path of totality, like Hamilton and Niagara Falls, will experience the full solar eclipse, but Toronto falls outside of that path.

“Outside of the path of totality it actually won’t get all that dark,” MacDonald said.

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“It would be as dark as, let’s say, on a very stormy day, when the cloud cover is extremely thick. In the path of totality, it will be like a twilight darkness,” she added.

— with files from Global News’ Noor Ra’fat Ibrahim and the Canadian Press

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