Edwardsville is not the only district that has chosen not to hold classes on the day of the eclipse: Granite City will be closed as well, and more schools on the Missouri side of the river have chosen to do the same.
Granite City School District Superintendent Jim Greenwald confirmed Wednesday that Granite City schools will be closed Aug. 21. Initially they had intended to remain open, he said, and had even purchased safety glasses for the students that would be distributed with parent permission. But after consideration of the three-hour period in which the danger exists from the sun, Greenwald said they have decided to close after all.
“I don’t want to put any child in harm’s way,” he said. “If even one child looks up at the sun and is injured, that’s too many.”
Greenwald said like Edwardsville, they have several schools dismissing during the three-hour window, and there’s no way to ensure a curious child won’t take his safety glasses off.
“You can be as cautious as you want, but a child riding on the bus looking out the window or walking home from school could look up at the sun,” he said. “This is a decision for what’s best for the safety of the students.”
Greenwald said they also intend to teach about the eclipse, both before and after the event. The glasses will probably be distributed anyway for the students to take home. “We don’t want to waste them,” he said.
Earlier this week, Edwardsville District 7 announced it would close on the day of the eclipse for safety reasons: because Edwardsville schools let out during the time of the eclipse when it will be most dangerous to look directly at the sun. Superintendent Lynda Andre said they had been advised they would be legally responsible for the children’s safety even after they leave the school building, up until they arrive at home, and there was no way to ensure all 7,500 children would not look up at the sun unprotected.
Greenwald and Andre both said they saw it as no different than a “snow day in August,” when environmental conditions mean students may not be safe.
Meanwhile, other districts like Collinsville and O’Fallon High have not decided whether they will close, while schools in Highland and Triad have opted to stay open and have parents sign permission slips for their children.
East St. Louis District 189 will be in session for the eclipse, as will Belleville 118 elementary schools, though Belleville Superintendent Matt Klosterman said they have not made final decisions about activities for the day.
In Missouri, at least four districts have chosen to close on the day of the eclipse, according to news reports. Reasons cited include the expected clogged traffic from the estimated 1 million tourists coming to watch the eclipse, as well as the safety reasons cited by Edwardsville and Granite City.
Elsewhere along the path of the eclipse, schools in Nashville, Tennessee had initially opted to close, but Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said students would not be safer at home, and asked the board to reverse its decision, according to news reports. Other schools along the path of the eclipse have chosen to close while others are using it as a professional development day for teachers, and still others are remaining open with eclipse-focused programming.