Schools ready for solar eclipse

By Mike Stimpson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Thunder Bay Source

KENORA – Children in most northwestern Ontario schools will view Monday’s solar eclipse under supervision.

Schools will be taking “safety precautions provided by the Northwestern Health Unit” during the afternoon partial eclipse, said Christy Radbourne, Keewatin-Patricia District School Board’s director of education.

“Many of our schools have taken advantage of the opportunity to receive eclipse-safe glasses and will be taking part in learning opportunities throughout the day,” she added.

Public schools in the Rainy River area will adjust Monday break times to fit class activities that centre around the eclipse, said a spokesperson for the Rainy River District School Board. According to the Northwest Catholic District School Board, each school has a safety plan in place for the day.

Students at three elementary schools in Red Lake and Ear Falls will be let out shortly after noon and staff there “will engage in administrator-led professional development for the remaining school hours,” she said.

Those schools are exceptions because their regular instruction hours end when the eclipse is at peak coverage, Radbourne explained.

The eclipse will take place over about two hours starting at 1 p.m. and peak shortly after 2 p.m. Some of Ontario east of Lake Huron will experience a total eclipse, but it will be only partial in Northwestern Ontario.

The Northwestern Health Unit issued a public advisory last week that, to avoid vision damage, the April 8 eclipse should not be viewed without special eye protection.

Viewing the phenomenon directly with the naked eye can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, the health unit warned.

Viewing glasses marked ISO 12312-2 are safe for viewing an eclipse, said the health unit’s Thomas Nabb. “Sunglasses, cameras, telescopes and binoculars are simply not safe.”

Public health officials and the Canadian Association of Optometrists recommend viewing the event online or making an eclipse box, essentially a pinhole projector. Instructions on how to make an eclipse box can be found on the internet.