Free-Range Kids

Toronto Schools Don't Want Children Harmed by the Solar Eclipse

More like total eclipse of the fun.


School's out on April 8 for many kids in the U.S. and Canada. On that date, a full solar eclipse will be visible from Texas to Ontario.

This has prompted some Canadian schools to take action.

"There are risks associated with viewing a solar eclipse," announced Toronto-area school boards.

These schools are moving their May 17 kid-free professional development day to April 8 "to ensure that students will not be outdoors during the total solar eclipse."

This seems like a missed opportunity.

"I am baffled, dismayed, and hugely disappointed by this decision," says one Toronto-area school administrator, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It is misguided to keep children inside when they could be seeing this event. However, risk-aversion and groupthink are leading the process."

It does sound that way, at least in Canada. Elsewhere on the eclipse's path, schools are closing for seemingly the opposite reason: In order to make sure kids do in fact go outside to witness the gods' displeasure. (Eclipse comes from the Greek word for abandonment.)

"Buffalo Public Schools students will have the day off to view the total solar eclipse," reports KTLA.

Buffalo is also expecting an influx of tourists who will be watching the late afternoon eclipse at just about the time kids would be getting out of school, so the day off is a traffic-calming measure too.

Many Ohio schools in the eclipse's path are also closing, or letting kids out early to make sure they get a chance to see it. A better idea might have been to keep school as usual but send all the kids to the playground with pinhole projectors or solar glasses in order to enjoy the eclipse. Someone could even announce it's time and the kids could look up— because, according to the National Park Service, you actually can look at an eclipse safely with your naked eyes during the two-to-four minutes the eclipse is total. (Who knew?)

But in Canada, the rationale is simply that kids shouldn't be outside when the eclipse makes it dark and also tempting to look up. As the school boards announced: "Looking directly at the sun, without appropriate protection can lead to severe eye damage or loss of eyesight, even during an eclipse." Perhaps the gods of fun and learning are looking down upon Toronto with displeasure.