Edmonton school boards keeping students inside during partial solar eclipse

Edmonton Telus World of Science visitors view a partial eclipse in October 2023 with eclipse glasses and filtered telescopes. (Submitted by Frank Florian – image credit)

As millions of Canadians head outdoors to catch a glimpse of a partial solar eclipse as it crosses North America on Monday, students in Edmonton schools will be staying indoors.

If skies are clear, Albertans may be able to view the celestial event around lunch hour.

But letters sent to parents and guardians of some Edmonton Public Schools this week, the school board says plans are in place for students to remain inside for the duration of the partial solar eclipse for the safety of eager skygazers.

Edmonton Catholic Schools posted a similar directive on their website, saying children will be kept indoors for the duration of the partial solar eclipse for lunch and recess.

“To keep everyone safe, we are asking division students to remain inside for the duration of the partial solar eclipse from 11:54 a.m. to 1:39 p.m.,” an Edmonton Public Schools spokesperson said in an emailed statement Friday.

“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.”

Other school boards across Canada have also taken steps to protect students in preparation for the celestial event, including the Toronto District School Board, which has notified parents that classes are cancelled on April 8.

A total solar eclipse will block the sun in parts of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

Alberta will have a partial solar eclipse, with the moon covering about 23 per cent of the solar surface at the eclipse maximum in Edmonton, at 12:46 p.m., said Frank Florian, senior manager of the planetarium and space sciences at Edmonton’s Telus World of Science.

While the science centre and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada will be hosting free and safe filtered telescope viewing of the partial eclipse at the society’s observatory in Coronation Park, Florian was surprised that many students in Edmonton will be inside.

Story continues

“If there’s science teachers at these schools, they should be really taking their kids outside and using safe solar viewing methods to explore this particular science topic,” Florian said.

A partial solar eclipse captured by Telus World of Science senior manager of the Planetarium and Space Sciences Frank Florian in 2017.

A partial solar eclipse captured by Telus World of Science senior manager of the Planetarium and Space Sciences Frank Florian in 2017.

A partial solar eclipse captured by Telus World of Science senior manager of the planetarium and space sciences, Frank Florian, in 2017. (Frank Florian)

The precautions are a marked departure from Florian’s junior high experience during a partial solar eclipse in Edmonton in 1979, when teachers took the students outside in the morning hours to look up at a partial eclipse through number 14 welding filter glass, he said.

“We peered upwards to watch this partial solar eclipse on Feb. 29 and it was all fine,” Florian said. “It was a great way of actually seeing how planetary systems and their orbits kind of work. So these types of events are great ways of enticing kids to want to learn about science technology.”

Health and safety prioritized

Edmonton Catholic said on its website that while it is never safe to look directly at the sun without proper eye protection, “people are more likely to do so in an attempt to view the partial solar eclipse.

“As a result, we are adjusting schedules to prioritize the health and safety of our students and staff.”

Sharon Morsink, a professor in the department of physics at the University of Alberta, said while the phenomenon won’t be as dramatic in Alberta as it will be in the eastern provinces, people should take time to go outside with number 14 welder’s glasses, eclipse glasses or at an observatory viewing event.

“Because it’s not a very deep eclipse, if they’re not actually looking around very much, they probably won’t even notice that the sky is getting a little bit darker because it’s not really a very deep eclipse,” Morsink said in an interview with CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active.

“If they actually were to glance up at the sun, they might notice that a little bit is gone. But they should not stare at the sun.”

Polarized or regular sunglasses are not safe for observing an eclipse, Morsink added.

The Canadian Space Agency is also warning those interested in viewing the spectacular celestial event that looking directly at the sun, without appropriate protection, can lead to serious problems such as partial or complete loss of eyesight.

Originally Appeared Here

You May Also Like