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Darkness at Noon: Schools Will Close for Solar Eclipse

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Read Time: 2 minutes

Even as the Canadian Paediatric Society just declared we have to stop overprotecting kids, take a look (but not directly!) at what’s happening in Toronto. This is one of several notes we got from unhappy parents and teachers:

Dear Let Grow:

A few years ago I heard Lenore Skenazy speak in Toronto at the Society of Camp Directors. I follow your blog closely and am writing because of a story developing here.

On April 8, 2024, there will be a solar eclipse. Southern Ontario is right in the path of totality. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view this rare celestial event and teach kids about the way our solar system actually works. So — what are the educators here doing?

So far, four school boards across the greater Toronto Area have decided to close schools that day to minimize risk. A bunch of other school boards and independent schools are about to follow that lead. 

I am baffled, dismayed, and hugely disappointed by this decision. It is misguided to keep children inside when they could be seeing this event. However, risk-aversion and groupthink are leading the process.

I wanted you to know because I think this is the type of thing that children should not be sheltered from. Instead they should be taught about their place in the universe and how to exist safely in nature. Alas, that won’t happen on April 8, 2024. We’ll just tell kids to be afraid of the sun and outdoors. That’s the unwritten curriculum. It is devastating.

I hold an administrative position and don’t want to jeopardize my job. At the same time, I am hoping someone will speak up about the luna(r)cy of this decision.

Dear Anonymous Admin: So are we! It’s as if the goal is to protect kids from accidentally getting interested in astronomy! Instead, they’re getting sucked into the black hole that is safetyism. Nothing fun ever gets out!

On the other hand, if they can just sit tight, there will be another total solar eclipse visible in Toronto around 400 years.

Solar Eclipse Teen Girl Soviet Dalle


  1. CaryCary says:

    Closing schools because of a solar eclipse is, of course, absurd. However, kids don’t need to be at school to view and learn about an eclipse. Just look it up in an encyclopedia, an astronomy book (both available at books stores and libraries), or on Google. Then go outside and watch! The only safety precaution necessary is never to look directly at the sun, not with eyes, a telescope, or binoculars. Easy! So easy even a kid can understand it!

    • BruceBruce says:

      I totally agree re “Go outside and watch!” Good parents will make sure that their kids will experience this awesome phenomenon. Another good reason for closing schools is that teachers, other staff, and the kids’ families won’t have to contend with the nightmare traffic congestion that’ll happen after the show is over. I sat in traffic for several hours after the 2017 eclipse, which is one reason I’ll be passing this time around. Also (and this will be a controversial bit of advice): Yes, definitely avoid looking at the sun before and after totality. However, it is perfectly safe to look *only* during totality. In one of his books (“Cosmos” IIRC), Carl Sagan encourages us to behold the beauty of totality, telling us, “By all means, look at the sun!” Obviously, people (especially parents) need to be very careful about doing this. If *any* part of the sun is visible, looking directly at it can and will do serious damage to your eyes.

  2. NicoleNicole says:

    Our district rescheduled a staff professional development day so that students would not have to attend on April 8. My assumption was that they did this because many parents would have taken their children out of school to participate in eclipse events as a family, and this frees them up to do so without missing instruction. I did not connect it to risk-aversion at all, but I suppose I could be missing something. I just know we were planning to keep our kindergartner home, as my husband is very interested in the eclipse and wants to share that experience. I would hope the schools include some eclipse-related education in the days leading up to it.

  3. DanielleDanielle says:

    The eclipse is set for totality at exactly school dismissal time. Where is the learning moment in watching an eclipse from a yellow bus? I’m supportive of Let Grow but the PD Day being pushed to eclipse day was a win on every level (including protectionism if that is how some are spinning this).

  4. DanielleDanielle says:

    (Also should note total darkness is set for 3:15 and not noon as the article title implies)

    • NicoleNicole says:

      Yes, good point. The totality is supposed to start at 3:06 here in Indianapolis, and that’d be right before dismissal at our school. It makes total sense to me that our schools made this change, and I don’t feel like it’s at all an issue with kids’ independence, at least in our case.

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