Schools split on decision to close for solar eclipse

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Carrollton and Brown Local schools have joined the growing list of districts announcing plans to close April 8, the day of the full solar eclipse – the first since 1806.

Carrollton Superintendent Dave Davis’ report made the announcement during the Feb. 12 school board meeting and Brown Local Superintendent Mark Scott sent a communication to parents Feb. 14.

Both superintendents said the decision to close was made after consulting with the Stark County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). Several Stark County schools previously announced closings on that day.

“I’m told it will be nearly dark during this time,” Davis said. “And our elementary students would be getting off the bus in conditions they are not accustomed to.”

The letters from both school leaders noted Ohioans will experience a full solar eclipse for the first time since 1806.

Both letters stated the following:

“There are several safety factors that have led us to decide to close school. Given the hardship that closing school causes families, I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the factors that led to this decision.” 

Full solar eclipses are rare and draw many spectators. Ohio’s last full eclipse was in 1806 and we will not have another until 2044! In fact, the next full eclipse that will be seen in North America will not be until 2044.

The eclipse will start around 2 p.m. and last until around 4 p.m. This timeframe is when students would normally be leaving, driving/riding home, going to athletic practices, etc.

The Stark County Emergency Management Agency (we are part of the Stark County Educational Service Center) advised we should expect the local population to DOUBLE on April 8 as people from neighboring states come to view the eclipse. As of today, most local hotels are at or near capacity (Think of the traffic experienced during a major concert or event).

From past eclipses in neighboring states, emergency management leaders advise that they saw extreme heavy demand for gasoline, hotels, campsites, restaurants, parks and severe traffic jams.

There were reports of heavy stress to cellular phone and internet service, first responder services and infrastructure.

For these reasons, after consultation with local safety and educational organizations, we have determined that it is in the best interests of our students, staff and families to close school. This will keep our buses, student drivers, parents and staff off the roads during the eclipse.”

Davis also noted all after school activities (including practices) are canceled that day.

Conotton Valley is in the process of surveying parents for opinions before making a decision.

Superintendent John Zucal said the district is served by the East Central Ohio Educational Service Center at New Philadelphia, which serves many neighboring schools. He noted a majority of those districts plan to be in session that day.

Minerva officials plan to discuss the options during the Feb. 20 school board meeting.

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