Schools make plans for eclipse; closed or early dismissal


By Patsy Nicosia

With concerns over safety, Sharon Springs Central School has “shifted gears” over plans to stage a viewing party for the upcoming once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse.
Instead, SSCS will be joining other local schools—and schools across the country—in closing for the day.
Schoharie Central School is also closing.
Middleburgh is taking interested students on a field trip to Syracuse University for a close-up—protected—look at the Monday, April 8 event, and Cobleskill-Ricmondville is dismissing students two hours early
“It was a good idea for about four hours,” said SSCS Superintendent Tom Yorke of plans to welcome students and the community to a viewing party at the Anthony M. DiPace Soccer Complex from the end of the school day until 4pm.
Mr. Yorke said he heard a number of concerns about the event, with some worried about traffic and other concerned students would ignore critical advice not to look directly at the sun during the eclipse.
MCS is taking Junior Middle and High School students to SU—Syracuse is directly in the path of totality—an area submerged in darkness.
“We tried to pivot and do something like that,” Mr. Yorke said, “but we learned the spots were all filled up, so we pivoted again.
“Safety is always our top priority so in the end, we decided just to give everyone the day off.”
SSCS will focus on the significance of the eclipse at in-school events in the days leading up to it, he said, and has also purchased viewing glasses for students.
Viewing glasses are also available, free, at the Sharon Springs Free Library and other local libraries are also offering eclipse-themed activities.
“I kind of went kicking and screaming,” Mr. Yorke said. “I think I was the last to pull the plug. I’m hoping we can still use this as a teaching moment.”
In New York State, the path of totality will cross 29 counties, including Syracuse; most of the Capital District will experience 96-97 percent coverage.
Statewide, hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected.
The total solar eclipse, which won’t happen again for another 20 years, will cut a 115-mile swath across 15 states, starting a little after noon in Texas and after 2pm in New York.