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Why are some schools closing for the solar eclipse?

Schools from Texas to New York have cited safety concerns as the reason for closing school for the day or releasing students early.
Why are some schools closing for the solar eclipse?
Posted at 2:40 PM, Apr 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-01 14:40:33-04

As millions of Americans prepare for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of seeing a total solar eclipse in their backyard on April 8, many schools plan to release students early or close for the event. 

There are over a dozen states in the path of totality, where the moon’s shadow will be cast as it moves between the sun and Earth, causing anywhere from a few seconds to four minutes of darkness similar to that of twilight. 

It is projected to begin around 12 p.m. CT and 2 p.m. ET, which is when most schools will still be in session if they are not already off for spring break. 

Schools from Texas to New York have cited safety concerns as the reason for closing school for the day or releasing students early. 

Some districts want to avoid the dangers of students attempting to look at the solar eclipse without specialty glasses, which can damage the eyes if you look when the moon is not completely lined up with the sun. Specifically on the East Coast, students might be exiting the buildings or boarding their buses right as the eclipse is happening and may be tempted to look at it without protection. 

Several schools, including districts in TennesseeVirginia and Pennsylvania, felt the best way to eliminate that risk was by closing their doors early, before the eclipse happens, or not opening at all.  

SEE MORE: This map shows the best time to see the solar eclipse in your city

Other districts said they are worried about potential traffic issues caused by the eclipse when students and staff are released for the day. 

States within the path of totality expect thousands of visitors to travel to their cities and towns searching for the best views of the solar eclipse, adding congestion and traffic in areas that wouldn’t normally be impacted on a normal business day. 

Colleges are also adjusting their schedules around the astronomical phenomenon. Kent State University in Ohio has canceled in-person classes on its campus due to the high number of anticipated visitors. 

Not a school but worth a mention: The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision plans to cancel visitations at nearly two dozen facilities in the path of totality and end visitation hours early at all other facilities. The department said this is due to the period of “total darkness” that is expected from the eclipse, even though it will last four minutes at most. 

SEE MORE: Get Ready! April 8 total solar eclipse viewing guide


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