Education

How will your kid’s school celebrate the solar eclipse?

O’Fallon Community Consolidated School District 90 students Paige and Scott Stoelzle practicing using their new eclipse protective glasses in front of Delores Moye Elementary School. They are the children of Rob and Julie Stoelzle, district 90 teachers.
O’Fallon Community Consolidated School District 90 students Paige and Scott Stoelzle practicing using their new eclipse protective glasses in front of Delores Moye Elementary School. They are the children of Rob and Julie Stoelzle, district 90 teachers. Courtesy photo

Ahead of Aug. 21, schools across the metro-east are making plans for the total solar eclipse coming that day.

Among the activities are field trips and hands-on science lessons complete with themed snacks like Moon Pies.

Here’s what your kid’s school has planned:

Editor’s note: Schools not listed did not respond to the News-Democrat’s request for information by press time.

St. Clair County

Althoff Catholic High School

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes.

▪  Activities? Students with parental permission will view the solar eclipse after an assembly to discuss the event, other matters pertaining to the school and to explain to students the safest way to view the solar eclipse, according to Principal Dave Harris’ letter to parents.

▪  Other options? Students without parental permission will remain inside during the eclipse viewing where instructors will discuss the eclipse.

Belleville 118

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. The district secured glasses for students and staff through donations, according to Superintendent Matt Klosterman.

▪  Activities? Each school building and classroom will have activities related to the eclipse.

▪  Excused absence? Yes, if parents make arrangements ahead of time.

Belleville 201

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Superintendent Jeff Dosier said most of the cost was covered by grants. The district paid about $1,000 with money from high school science departments’ T-shirt sales.

▪  Activities? Starting on Aug. 16, there will be announcements to educate students about the solar eclipse, including safe viewing of the eclipse, the dangers of not using the eclipse glasses and detailed instructions for Aug. 21, according to Dosier. On eclipse day, teachers will take students with parental permission to a designated area to view the eclipse.

▪  Other options? Students without parental permission will remain inside during the eclipse viewing.

Brooklyn 188

Teachers will report for a professional development day, but all students will stay home.

Cahokia 187

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Some glasses were donated. The district paid $1,170 with Title I money, according to Superintendent Art Ryan.

▪  Activities? Each school is planning eclipse activities.

▪  Other options? Students without parental permission will not participate in eclipse activities.

▪  Excused absence? Yes, if the district receives a call from the parent.

Central 104

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Superintendent Dawn Elser said the district used money from fundraisers to purchase glasses for the students and staff.

▪  Activities? Teachers and administrators will make plans on the first inservice day of the school year, according to Elser.

▪  Excused absence? Yes

Dupo 196

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. The JROTC team donated all of the glasses for students and staff, according to Superintendent Kelly Carpenter.

▪  Activities? The district will serve lunch with themed snacks like Moon Pies and SunChips. There will be a 3D modeling math lesson, telescope demonstration and other activities during the day. Students with parental permission will view the eclipse on the football field.

East St. Louis 189

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? For some students. District spokesperson Sydney Stigge-Kaufman said Mason-Clark Middle School received free glasses from the St. Louis Solar Eclipse Task Force. Other students will use glasses provided by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

▪  Activities? Some schools, like Mason-Clark Middle, plan to view the eclipse. An estimated 250-500 students will also travel to the SIUE East St. Louis Center for science, technology, engineering and math activities and to view the eclipse, according to Stigge-Kaufman.

Freeburg 70

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. The parent-teacher organization purchased the glasses, according to Superintendent Tomi Diefenbach.

▪  Activities? Students with parental permission will participate in eclipse activities.

Grant 110

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Some glasses were given to the district for free, and grants offset some of the costs, according to Superintendent Matt Stines. He said the district paid about $200.

▪  Activities? Teachers are working on lessons to do ahead of time on the eclipse. Students with parental permission will participate in an eclipse viewing outside.

▪  Other options? The district will stream NASA’s live video feed for students who stay inside during the eclipse.

▪  Excused absence? Yes, if parents keep students home for a valid reason, like an expressed safety concern.

Harmony-Emge 175

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Emge Junior High School Principal Dave Deets said glasses for students and staff were purchased with money from a fundraiser.

▪  Activities? Every grade level will participate in activities and lessons related to the eclipse on Aug. 21, Deets said. Lessons for older students will go more in depth in the days prior to the eclipse. Students in first- through eighth-grade will go outside with teachers and support staff to view the eclipse. Students in pre-k and kindergarten classes will stay inside.

▪  Excused absence? Yes, if parents want to keep students home because of safety concerns or to take students to view the eclipse at a different location.

Mascoutah 19

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Assistant Superintendent Cindy Presnell said the glasses were provided by local businesses and organizations, including Mascoutah Citizens Bank, Mascoutah Farmers and Merchants National Bank and the St. Louis Solar Eclipse Task Force.

▪  Activities? During teacher orientation days, staff will receive training on the historical significance of the eclipse and the procedures for safely observing it, Presnell said. There will be scheduled events in each of the schools throughout the district on Aug. 21. Students will view the eclipse outside at each of the campuses. Some high school classes will travel by bus to view the eclipse from Red Bud. Preschool classes will not be in session on Aug. 21.

▪  Excused absence? Yes, if parents make arrangements with the school.

Millstadt 160

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? For students in third- through eighth-grade. The parent-teacher association purchased the glasses, according to Superintendent Jon Green.

▪  Activities? Older students with parental permission will go outside for the eclipse viewing.

▪  Other options? Younger students and students without parental permission will remain inside participating in activities related to the eclipse.

▪  Excused absence? Yes.

New Athens 60

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. The district purchased the glasses for $797.50, according to Superintendent Brian Karraker

▪  Activities? All of the schools in the district are planning activities and lessons related to the eclipse, including how to safely view the eclipse. On Aug. 21, students will have the opportunity to view the eclipse on the baseball field.

▪  Excused absence? No, not if the absence is because of the eclipse.

O’Fallon 90

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Superintendent Carrie Hruby said the district received glasses for free from the St. Louis Solar Eclipse Task Force.

▪  Activities? Students with parental permission will participate in the eclipse viewing.

▪  Excused absence? Yes, if pre-arranged.

O’Fallon 203

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. The district stated in a post to its Facebook page that it procured glasses for all students and employees.

▪  Activities? Staff will use the eclipse as a learning opportunity, according to the post. All students will have the opportunity to view the eclipse. The district encouraged parents to begin conversations with their children about the safety precautions outlined by NASA at eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.

Our Lady Queen of Peace

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Principal Michelle Tidwell said the Mother’s Club/Sodality purchased glasses for the students.

▪  Activities? Teachers attended a workshop through the Regional Office of Education to learn more about the eclipse, Tidwell said. On Aug. 21, they plan to talk to students about the eclipse, including what it is, as well as the cause, history and dangers of eclipses. There will be a supervised viewing of the eclipse during the school day.

Shiloh 85

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. All of the glasses were obtained for free by teachers through grants, according to Superintendent Dale Sauer.

▪  Activities? Teachers will receive training to help students safely view the eclipse. On Aug. 21, students with parental permission will participate in the eclipse viewing.

▪  Excused absences? Yes.

Signal Hill 181

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Superintendent Janice Kunz said the district planned to purchase glasses for each student who has written parental permission to participate in the eclipse viewing.

▪  Activities? Kunz said the eclipse will be used as a “school-wide teaching moment.” Students with parental permission will also be able to view the eclipse.

Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. The glasses will be provided through a Camp Ondessonk program, according to Principal Dan Nickerson.

▪  Activities? The school has planned a field trip to the camp, which is located in the Shawnee National Forest, to view the eclipse.

Smithton 130

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Principal Vicki Norton said the parent-teacher organization purchased glasses for the students.

▪  Activities? Teachers are planning various activities related to the eclipse in their classrooms.

▪  Excused absence? Absences will be handled the same as any other day, Norton said.

St. James School

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Teams of students will build their own viewing devices, according to seventh-grade teacher Kathy Costello.

▪  Activities? Costello said the week before Aug. 21 will be “eclipse week,” when students in kindergarten through eighth-grade will participate in cross-curricular activities to help them understand the science of eclipses. They will also learn about the math, history and multicultural stories that surround eclipses. The school will be visited by astronomer Nicole Gugliucci, who will share her expertise. On the day of the eclipse, there will be a direct viewing of totality. The students who build viewing devices will make observations of eclipse-related phenomena and gather data for citizen science projects related to the eclipse.

St. John the Baptist School

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes.

▪  Activities? Principal Roy Monti said the school is planning a “science day” with experiments and activities from 9 a.m. to noon at the local park. There will be a barbecue lunch at noon.

Whiteside 115

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. The district purchased glasses for $750 and plan to use them again during the next solar eclipse in 2024, according to Superintendent Peggy Burke.

▪  Activities? Students with parental permission will view the eclipse outside.

▪  Other options? Students without parental permission will be able to watch the eclipse inside through NASA’s live video feed.

Wolf Branch 113

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? For students in third- through eighth-grade. The parent-teacher organization purchased glasses for one of the grades. A local eye doctor donated them for another grade. And the rest of the glasses were purchased with grant money, according to Superintendent Scott Harres.

▪  Activities? For the first few days of school, teachers and students will research topics related to the eclipse. On Aug. 21, students with parental permission will view the eclipse outside.

▪  Other options? Students without parental permission, as well as kindergarteners, first graders and second graders, will watch the eclipse from inside on large screens throughout the buildings, Harres said.

▪  Excused absence? No

Madison County

Alton District 11

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? For second- through 12th-grade. The glasses were provided for free by the St. Louis Eclipse Expo for use at school with parental permission and within strict safety precautions, according to Superintendent Mark Cappel.

▪  Activities? Plans are pending, with elementary, middle and high school administrators and teachers working “to make this an educational experience for all students,” Cappel said. Students in kindergarten and first grade will view the eclipse through media coverage inside the school.

▪  Other options? Parents may elect to have their child view the eclipse through indoor television coverage as it will be available in all schools.

▪  Excused absence? No

Collinsville Unit 10

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Glasses were donated to the district from private organizations, according to Superintendent Robert Green.

▪  Activities? Guidelines and plans are still being developed, but Green said they may take small groups outside to observe the eclipse safely. Approximately 50 special-needs students will be dismissed early as a safety precaution, according to Green.

▪  Other options? Parents may opt their children out of viewing the eclipse.

▪  Excused absence? Absences are not counted as excused or unexcused, but truancy is unlikely to be declared for one day out, Green said.

Edwardsville 7

All schools will be closed Aug. 21.

Father McGivney Catholic High School

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Further details were not available at press time.

Good Shepherd Lutheran School

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes, for grades 5-8, who will go out during the totality with their teachers to observe it. Younger children will be kept inside.

▪  Activities? Good Shepherd will have an “Eclipse Celebration,” with science classes and tracking through NASA in the afternoon, as well as art projects, discussion of the religious aspect of creation, and snacks — SunChips, to be precise.

▪  Other options? Parents can choose to keep their child out of school for the eclipse.

Granite City 9

All schools will be closed Aug. 21. Eclipse glasses that were acquired from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will be distributed to the students for their own use.

Holy Cross Lutheran School, Collinsville

Glasses had been ordered; final decision on whether to stay open was pending at press time.

Holy Family School

School will be closed Aug. 21.

Metro-East Lutheran High School

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes

▪  Activities? The eclipse activities will be determined by the teachers in each class.

▪  Other options? Principal Jay Krause said so far, no parents have called with concerns. At the moment, it will be up to the respective teachers to decide options for any student whose parents do have concerns about the eclipse.

St. Boniface Catholic School

▪  Activities? The school plans a field trip to join Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School in Waterloo to view the eclipse.

Triad 2

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. The district acquired some glasses by donation and others were purchased; Superintendent Leigh Lewis said all glasses meet the specifications outlined by NASA.

▪  Activities? Triad schools will be in session, but dismissal times likely will be altered slightly, according to Lewis. Activities will be decided after teacher training days on Aug. 9 and 14.

▪  Other options? If parents prefer that their child does not participate in the outside activities, there will be alternative indoor activities provided. Parents are welcome to volunteer or participate during the eclipse activities.

▪  Excused absence? Yes, parents may choose to take their children out of school due to the eclipse.

Monroe County

Columbia 4

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. The glasses were donated by the Monroe-Randolph Regional Office of Education.

▪  Activities? Science teachers in each building are planning solar eclipse activities, according to Superintendent Gina Segobiano. Students at Parkview Elementary, Columbia Middle and Columbia High schools will view the eclipse if they have parental permission, according to a post on the district’s Facebook page. The post states that students at Eagleview Elementary will not be viewing the eclipse.

Gibault Catholic High School

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. The glasses were donated by the Monroe-Randolph Regional Office of Education.

▪  Activities? At 12:15 p.m. on Aug. 21, science department chair Karen Asbury will facilitate an assembly on safety, filming, temperature changes and other science-related topics, according to Principal Russ Hart. After that, students will view the eclipse outside. There will be Moon Pies for students to eat. Chemistry teacher and part-time disc jockey Arron Martel will also provide music that has a moon or sun theme.

▪  Other options? Students and staff who do not want to view the eclipse will be able to stay in the gym.

Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School

▪  Activities? St. Boniface Catholic in Edwardsville will be joining the students of Sts. Peter and Paul on a field trip to view the eclipse.

Wesclin 3

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. Some teachers were able to get eclipse glasses donated last spring from private organizations for the elementary grades. Glasses for the upper grades were purchased by the district.

▪  Activities? Each building will have grade-appropriate eclipse activities. The elementary school has declared it Eclipse Day, and the whole day will revolve around it. The upper grades will do eclipse-related activities in science classes.

▪  Other options? If parents choose to keep their children home, it will be an excused absence. However, Superintendent Jennifer Filyaw said she would prefer that the child come to school anyway and remain inside during the eclipse, but participate in other eclipse-related activities inside.

Randolph County

Red Bud 132

▪  Eclipse glasses provided? Yes. The glasses were donated by the Monroe-Randolph Regional Office of Education.

▪  Activities? In the days leading up to the eclipse, Superintendent Jonathan Tallman said there will be learning activities for students that will emphasize safe viewing. The high school is planning a large viewing at the football stadium, which students from other schools will be attending.

▪  Excused absence? Yes, if a parent wants to keep their child home for safety reasons.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

Reporter Robyn L. Kirsch contributed to this report.

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