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Teachers' union urges school board to reconsider plans for solar eclipse


The union representing elementary school teachers in Waterloo Region is urging the public school board to let students out early out on April 8 for the solar eclipse.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) – Waterloo Region says the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) is posing “significant risks to student safety” by having classes run normally during the eclipse.

“It's naive to assume students won't look directly at the sun. The board's strategy of building excitement and curiosity about the eclipse and sending students outside unsupervised poses a significant risk to their safety. This cannot be considered 'every measure necessary' to ensure student well-being,” said Jeff Pelich, the ETFO president, in a news release.

Earlier this month, WRDSB announced that schools would be open as usual on April 8. The move was in contrast to several other boards across the province, including the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, who decided to move one of their PA days to coincide with the eclipse out of fear of students could damage their eyes by looking directly at the sun. 

At the time, the WRDSB said its students would take part in “once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities during the total solar eclipse, with appropriate safety measures.”

The union believes students should be let out early to ensure students return home before the eclipse begins.

Pelich told CTV News in an interview, that students in kindergarten to Grade 2 could be getting eclipse glasses.

“But under the direction that they don't use them at school. And I think for us, the biggest frustration is, you know, they're asking us to cover these topics in the classroom. They're asking us to send home the glasses and then we have to just trust and hope that, again, that message was heard by the students and that their natural curiosity about the eclipse isn't going to cause them to look at the sun.”

 In southern Ontario, the moon will begin moving across the sun, appearing to cast a shadow on its surface at around 2 p.m., before reaching maximum coverage at 3:18 p.m. By 4:30, the eclipse will be over.

While the sun is no more powerful than usual during a solar eclipse, people might be tempted to stare directly at it during the rare celestial event. Doing so can cause serious problems such as partial or complete loss of eyesight.

To watch a solar eclipse safely, you can use solar viewers – known as eclipse glasses – or create a simple pinhole projector using a box. Top Stories

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