Some schools in the metro-east intend to close on Monday, Aug. 21 due to the solar eclipse, but leaders school districts covering O’Fallon and Shiloh said they will remain open that day.
Many administrators have been planning ahead and have protective eyewear on hand to allow students the opportunity to safely view the phenomenon and have planned lessons and activities to make full education use of the celestial happenings of the day.
O’Fallon District 90
Carrie Hruby, superintendent of O’Fallon Community Consolidated School District 90, said her district is confident it can provide a safe and educational opportunity for students during the eclipse.
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“Safety is always a high priority for District 90. Each of our schools have secured eclipse safety eyewear for all students, and we will send home a permission slip for parents to communicate their consent for children to participate in the viewing of the eclipse,” said Hruby.
More than 3,800 pairs of safety glasses were ordered, enough for all students within the district, including for preschool. The St. Louis Solar Eclipse Task Force is the organization Hruby said the district secured the eyewear from at no cost.
“We will give them to the students on Aug. 21 so they can be used that day,” she said.
If a student absence is eclipse-related and reported by a parent, Hruby said, it will be an excused one.
“We also understand that some parents may choose to keep their children home from school,” she said.
However, she encouraged parents to also learn about safeguards to proper eclipse viewing.
“We encourage parents to begin conversations now about the safety precautions NASA outlines,” she said.
Safety guidelines can be found on the website eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.
The eclipse is a “once-in-a-lifetime” event that O’Fallon Township High School District is excited to share with its student body, said Dr. Darcy Benway, OTHS 203 superintendent.
All students will have the opportunity to view the eclipse; protective glasses will be provided for students and staff, according to Benway.
“OTHS is excited about this learning opportunity for students, especially since the path of the eclipse will be very near to OTHS,” Benway said. “Although a few area districts have decided to close school on the day of the eclipse, OTHS will remain open.”
According to a post on the district’s Facebook page, district leaders believe that by having school on Aug. 21 OTHS can:
▪ provide safety measures for all students that may otherwise not be available to students who would be out of school,
▪ provide all students the opportunity to view the eclipse,
▪ use the eclipse as a shared student-staff learning opportunity, and
▪ continue with meaningful instruction for the portion of the day when eclipse viewing will not be occurring,” the post said.
“OTHS is confident that we can provide a safe experience for our students and a wonderful educational opportunity for those in attendance,” the post said. “We understand that some families may wish to keep their students home from school on that day, and we respect their decision to do so.”
Shiloh District 85 has enough eclipse glasses for all students and staff, all obtained free by teachers through grants, according to Superintendent Dale Sauer.
“We are planning on taking advantage of this educational experience. Our teachers will receive training for helping our students safely view the eclipse, and parents will have the option of having their children participate,” Sauer said.
Dawn Elser, Central School District 104 superintendent, said discussions are in the works to have teachers, on the first in-service day, plan activities in the coming weeks prior to the solar event.
“We have secured 650 glasses for the eclipse viewing. That is enough glasses for the students and staff of Central School District 104,” Elser said.
The district used monies raised through previous school-related fundraisers to help pay for them, Esler said.
“It will be an excused absence if parents choose to keep their child home on Aug. 21,” she said.
Reporter Lexi Cortes contributed to this report.