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WCDSB changes PA Day due to upcoming solar eclipse


The Waterloo Catholic District School Board has decided to move one of its PA Days so it coincides with the solar eclipse on April 8.

A swath of southwestern Ontario will go dark that day as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. The best way to experience the celestial event will be along the path of totality. In southwestern Ontario, that includes the cities of Hamilton and St. Catharines.

MORE: How to experience April's 'once-in-a-lifetime' eclipse

“It’s a legitimate once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Orbax, a science communicator in the University of Guelph’s physics department.

Many school boards, some not even in the path of totality, have already decided to move their PA Days to April 8.

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is the latest on that list along with the school boards for Bluewater, Bruce-GreyTorontoOttawa, and Simcoe.

The concern is that when the solar eclipse happens, around 3:18 p.m., young students will look directly at the sun as they walk home from school. Doing that, without proper protection, could cause serious problems such as a partial or complete loss of eyesight.

“We’re not going to be in totality here [in Guelph and Waterloo Region], where it’s 100 per cent covered by the sun, but we’re very close and we’re going to be at 99.1 per cent coverage,” Orbax explained.

At Monday's Board of Directors meeting, the WCDSB said the PA Day on April 19 will be moved up to April 8 to minimize the risk to students during the solar eclipse.

The Waterloo Region District School Board, meanwhile, has not yet made the decision to move their PA Day on April 10. In a statement to CTV News, the board said it is continuing to monitor the situation.    

“We are still consulting with Region of Waterloo Public Health to better understand ways to mitigate any risks posed by the solar eclipse. They indicated they will follow-up with us on or around Feb. 20. We expect to have further information for the community after we hear back from Public Health. Please be assured that we commit to providing information to students, staff, families and caregivers as soon as possible prior to April 8,” the statement reads.

Whether it’s from home or on the way home from school, Orbax urges safety when watching the eclipse.

“There’s a variety of ways to look at this, from eclipse glasses, to eclipse viewers, to even welding goggles. Or using a camera obscura, or pinhole camera,” he suggested.

How to build your own eclipse projector (Canadian Space Agency). Top Stories

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