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Education minister slams WRDSB eclipse reversal


Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the Waterloo Region District School Board’s abrupt decision to close schools Monday during the solar eclipse is “entirely unacceptable.”

In a reversal of its earlier position, the board announced Wednesday that Monday would be an asynchronous learning day – giving parents just five days notice to find child-care.

“It is entirely unacceptable for school boards to drop this on parents only days ahead of time,” Lecce said in a statement to CTV News Friday.

Lecce said he had told boards across the province that children should be in school on Monday.

“It is not only indefensible to send kids home just days ahead of time, but it is insult to injury to do so without ensuring live access to their educator,” he said. “The board ought to reconsider this decision.”

In an email to CTV News, the school board confirmed it was aware of Lecce’s position but had not provided an additional comment as of publication.

Sudden reversal

Staring at the sun, including during an eclipse, can lead to serious eye damage.

In southern Ontario, the phenomenon will be at its peak around 3:18 p.m. – around the time students are being let out of class.

In response, earlier this year, numerous school boards across province moved their previously scheduled PD days so students would not be in class on April 8.

But in March, WRDSB announced it would not be following suit. In a statement at the time, it said students would take part in “once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities during the total solar eclipse, with appropriate safety measures.”

Speaking Wednesday, Director of Education jeewan chanicka told CTV News they took numerous factors into consideration when making that decision, including safety, learning and access to childcare.

“We thought, you know, we could do this and make it work and make it be a really valuable experience,” chanicka said.

The board also made it clear to parents they could take their children out of class early that day if they wished.

chanicka said it was further feedback from staff and families that led the board to change plans Wednesday and announce schools would be closed.

The decision left many families scrambling.

“For that I’m deeply apologetic,” chanicka said. “That would not be something that we wanted. And like I said, it was part of our consideration for why we had the plan that we did.” Top Stories

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