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Alberta school boards take precautions, offer safety advice ahead of Monday’s partial solar eclipse

Click to play video: 'Edmonton prepares for partial solar eclipse'
Edmonton prepares for partial solar eclipse
WATCH ABOVE: (From April 5, 2024) Frank Florian from the Telus Wold of Science joined Global News at Noon to talk about how Edmontonians can prepare to take in the partial solar eclipse while staying safe. – Apr 5, 2024

An astronomical event that will unfold on Monday is prompting several Alberta school boards to take precautions to ensure student safety is not at risk.

If the sky is clear on April 8, Albertans may be able to witness a partial solar eclipse, however, it is not safe to view the event unless eyes are properly protected.

In a post on its website, the Calgary Board of Education said because of the risk of “viewing the eclipse in an unsafe manner,” it is inviting “all students to remain at school during the lunch break.”

“We know that this provides a unique learning experience for students and staff in our schools; however, there can be a serious impact on vision,” the CBE said.

The school board asked parents to ensure their child comes to school with a lunch.

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“If students are not participating in educational activities around the event, schools may choose to have students … be involved in supervised indoor activities,” the CBE said.

“If you decide that your child will walk home for lunch on Monday, please discuss with your child not to look at the sun to protect his/her eyes from damage by the solar eclipse.”

The Calgary Catholic School District also posted similar guidance on its website, as did Edmonton Catholic Schools.

In an email to Global News on Thursday, Lethbridge’s Catholic school division — the Holy Spirit Catholic School Division — said that “at this time,” its superintendent has asked that all principals and schools keep the students inside during the eclipse.

“We are also advising all students to remain at school for lunch, with parents sending lunches with them, and to stay away from windows looking outside. In addition, we’re urging parents to speak with their kids about not looking at the sun during an eclipse due to the damage it can cause to their eyes.”

The Lethbridge School Division also warned students and parents about how the partial solar eclipse could damage someone’s vision if precautions are not taken.

In an email sent to Global News on Thursday, a spokesperson for Edmonton Public Schools said it is asking students within that school division “to remain inside for the duration of the partial solar eclipse.”

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“For schools that have an open campus, with students leaving offsite for lunch, we have asked staff to reinforce the risks of viewing the sun without proper eye protection.”

The spokesperson added that safety tips and information about viewing a solar eclipse have been provided to all public schools in Edmonton.

In a news release issued last week, the senior manager of the planetarium and space sciences at Edmonton’s TELUS World of Science said safely viewing a partial solar eclipse “requires special solar filters.”

“It is not safe to watch a partial solar eclipse with your eyes alone,” Frank Florian said.

Along with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), the Edmonton science centre is presenting an opportunity for Edmontonians to take part in a telescope viewing of the partial eclipse at the RASC Observatory in Coronation Park. The event is free of charge and runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday.

The science centre said it is also selling safe solar viewers at its Galaxy Gift Shop.

On its website, the U.S.’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), describes a partial solar eclipse as an event that happens “when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth but the Sun, Moon, and Earth are not perfectly lined up.”

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“Only a part of the Sun will appear to be covered, giving it a crescent shape. During a total or annular solar eclipse, people outside the area covered by the Moon’s inner shadow see a partial solar eclipse.”

In Edmonton, the partial eclipse is expected to begin at 11:54 a.m. on April 8. At 12:46 p.m., the event will be in “mid-eclipse” phase while the partial eclipse is expected to end at 1:39 p.m.

In Calgary, the partial solar eclipse will be visible between the hours of 11:48 a.m. and 1:38 p.m.

In the Lethbridge area, the eclipse is expected start just after 11:45 a.m., reach its maximum at 12:43 p.m. and end at 1:41 p.m.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s partial solar eclipse'
Edmonton’s partial solar eclipse

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