A scientific association denounces the closure of schools on the

A scientific association denounces the closure of schools on the day of the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024

The Association for the Teaching of Science and Technology in Quebec (AESTQ) denounces the “complete delirium” of certain school service centers that have decided to close their doors on April 8 due to the expected solar eclipse that day. Other schools have taken the initiative to provide their students with safety glasses and make this day a unique educational experience.

“For us it is complete madness to close schools during the solar eclipse. It's as if the end of the world is imminent. I feel like I’m in Tintin,” AESTQ director general Camille Turcotte said bluntly when contacted by Le Devoir on Wednesday.

In recent weeks, several school service centers have announced that they will close their doors on April 8, when a total solar eclipse is observed. So far, there are at least ten school service centers (CSS) in Quebec that will not open on this day, according to a partial compilation from the association sent to Le Devoir on Wednesday. These CSS specifically highlighted the risk of a solar eclipse endangering children's eye health if they do not wear certified safety glasses.

“Given the time window in which the eclipse will take place, it is impossible for us to fulfill our obligation to provide all our students with appropriate supervision to avoid the risks associated with unsafe observation of this phenomenon,” the reasoned CSS de la Rivière-du-Nord on its website.

“A missed opportunity”

But “depriving students of this experience contradicts the fundamental goals of education, which aim to inspire curiosity, wonder and discovery of the world around us,” the nonprofit association regrets in a press release.

She recalled that a solar eclipse is a “rare astronomical phenomenon,” which represents a unique opportunity to educate young people on the subject. The next total solar eclipse over eastern Canada will not occur until 2079.

“There are still a minority of school service centers that have announced their closure, but we fear a ripple effect, so we are making this trip,” Ms. Turcotte explains in an interview. She also notes with regret that the organization À la Découverte de l'Univers provided teachers in Laval with more than 35,000 protective glasses so that they could distribute them to their students on the day of the eclipse. However, the latter will ultimately have to stay at home, regrets Camille Turcotte, since the CSS de Laval has made April 8 an education day. This also applies, among others, to the CSS of the Hauts-Cantons in Estrie, the CSS de la Rivière-du-Nord in the Laurentides and the CSS des Portages-de-l'Outaouais.

“Teachers want schools to stay open; Many have already bought glasses and now the rug is being pulled out from under them,” says Ms Turcotte, who sees this as a “missed opportunity” to offer students an unparalleled educational experience.

The AESTQ also reminds that a solar eclipse poses no risk as long as you wear safety glasses when observing. “Students and even young children are able to understand this simple rule,” notes Camille Turcotte, who also deplores Quebec's lack of action to prevent school closures on April 8.

“I would have liked elected officials and Department of Education officials to take advantage of this opportunity, but that wasn’t the case,” she sighs.

Earlier this month, Education Minister Bernard Drainville urged schools to remain open on the day of the eclipse, while also urging them to ensure they properly supervise their students and provide them with safety glasses.

Schools are adapting

Other schools, such as those at CSS des Laurentides, preferred to keep their classes open and provide protective glasses to all students and staff so they could experience this rare phenomenon in an “educational and safe way,” one said intended notice for parents of students at this school service center. However, parents must ensure that their children return home as school transport is not available at the end of this school day, which also does not include an exam to facilitate school progress.

The Montreal CSS also announced that its schools will be open. The Montreal Planetarium will also distribute 95,000 pairs of glasses free of charge to students and staff at school service centers. The CSS de la Pointe-de-l'Île also remains open, as do the CSS Marie-Victorin on the south coast of the Montreal region and the CSS des Hautes-Laurentides, among others.

To watch in the video