Area school districts to use calamity day for April 2024 total eclipse

BUTLER COUNTY — Day will become night for a historically rare school day this coming April and for thousands of area students it will also be a celestial holiday from classes.

For the first time in more than 200 years, southwest Ohio — and other parts of the state and Midwest — will experience on April 8 a total or near total solar eclipse.

Though the total blackout of the sun by the moon that day will center more on Ohio’s Darke County to the north of Butler County, the onset of nighttime blackness at mid-afternoon has already prompted some local school officials to schedule classes off for that Monday.

Among those cancelling school are the 10,000-student Fairfield Schools and the 9,000-student Hamilton Schools as well as Edgewood and Talawanda schools.

Thousands of visitors from around the nation and the world are expected to travel to Ohio given its central positioning within the 124-mile band of darkness that will hit our region beginning at 3:08 p.m.

Though dramatic in shadowing out nearly all sunlight locally, the eclipse will last only about five minutes.

“Because of this rare and spectacular event, it is expected that on the day of the eclipse, the local population near the eclipse’s center line could triple or quadruple,” wrote Hamilton Schools Superintendent Mike Holbrook in a recent message to school parents.

“Butler County and Hamilton, Ohio, are just south of the eclipse’s center line. School districts and municipalities have been warned to expect extreme demands and stresses on local infrastructure and services, including hotels, campsites, food, water, restaurants, utilities, law enforcement, fire services, etc.,” said Holbrook.

“The safety concerns for students, parents, and staff commuting to and from school and the guidance from the Southwest Ohio Disaster Services were determining factors in this decision.”

And Holbrook added “all students will receive a pair of solar eclipse glasses before leaving on spring break to view this rare and historic event.”

Talawanda school officials are doing the same while also planning to use the first full eclipse in Ohio since 1806 as a learning opportunity. The district made the decision well in advance to not host school the day of the solar eclipse. We we were planning this last year,” said Holli Hansel, spokeswoman for the school system.

“Talawanda officials had concerns about safety, the timing of the event relevant to those concerns, and also possible heavy traffic and students and families driving during the time of the eclipse,” said Hansel.

“The district purchased special glasses ahead of time and will be sharing those with both staff and students in anticipation of this exciting event. We know many activities are being planned around this community, county, and region and so we are happy to be able to support students participating in those events with the proper eyewear.”

Edgewood Schools Superintendent Kelly Spivey recently messaged school families about the district’s use of one of its allotted “calamity days” – usually used for snow emergencies – for the historic event.

Other Butler County school districts contacted said they are now considering also calling off school for April 8 while citing similar concerns.

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