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Windsor's public and Catholic school boards announce early end to classes on day of solar eclipse

The moon passes in front of the sun for a total solar eclipse visible from Farmington, Mo., Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via The Associated Press - image credit)
The moon passes in front of the sun for a total solar eclipse visible from Farmington, Mo., Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via The Associated Press - image credit)

Students with Windsor's public and Catholic school boards will be sent home early on the day of a solar eclipse this spring, both boards have announced.

A total solar eclipse is expected on April 8, around the time school would normally be dismissed for the day.

In a letter to parents and guardians on Friday, the Greater Essex County District School Board and Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board said the region will experience some of the "most intense" effects of the eclipse between 1:57 p.m. and 3:17 p.m.

"As this will be during scheduled dismissals, out of concern for student safety during that period of almost complete darkness, we will dismiss all students in both elementary and secondary schools at 1 p.m. on April 8th," the letter reads. "All after-school extracurricular activities will also be cancelled that day."

While buses will run at their regular time in the morning, the board says student transportation will not be possible during the middle of the day and there will be no transportation at the end of the day — so families will need to make their own arrangements.

A solar eclipse creates a halo-effect of bright light around the circumference of the sun, so even a brief, unprotected glance at the sun can damage eyesight, in some cases, permanently, the letter noted.

The boards said members did consider the possibility of moving one of the remaining professional activity (PA) days to April 8, but because of contractual obligations, previously scheduled commitments, and issues with transportation — which is shared between local school boards — this was not a workable solution.

"We are working collaboratively with our child-care providers to share plans for the day. We are supporting them as they continue to determine what programs they will run that day," the boards said.

Several school boards in Ontario have rescheduled PA days due to the eclipse. They include Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, the Peel District School Board, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, Halton District and Halton Catholic school boards and Limestone District School Board in Kingston, among others.