BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI North Country This Week MASSENA -- The total solar eclipse is still months away but Massena Central School officials are already making preparations for the day, including holding …
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
MASSENA -- The total solar eclipse is still months away but Massena Central School officials are already making preparations for the day, including holding classes for only half of the day.
School officials say the half day of classes on April 8 will allow students to view the total solar eclipse and take part in educational events.
Board of education members approved the move for an early dismissal on April 8 during the board's meeting last week.
According to Superintendent Ron Burke and Board President Paul Haggett, the district may be able to use a give back day, or an unused snow day, to account for the day of the eclipse.
Burke said the day of the eclipse follows spring break, "so there is a chance that we may have enough snow days left that it might just become a give back day."
Though the event is a great educational opportunity, Burke said the eclipse itself, which will happen between 3:20 p.m. to 3:23 p.m., however it complicates matters since it will occur around dismissal time.
Burke said it's important to ensure student safety while allowing them to enjoy the experience with families.
“We are looking at a half day, just an early dismissal that day, which is in keeping with about half the other schools. Some schools are doing arrive late and stay late so that they can experience the eclipse at the school. Again, every school is doing something a little bit different, but I’d say about half right now around the modality will be a half day," he said.
County officials are also making preparations for the event, most recently agreeing to establish an ad hoc committee to oversee preparations.
According to St. Lawrence County Emergency Services Director Matt Denner, the event could bring in between 50,000 to 150,000 people to the region.
According to Denner, Emergency Services has been drafting an emergency management plan for the event and has distributed it to legislators for consideration. That plan will encompass a number of considerations, ranging from resource management to unique challenges the county may face and opportunities to capitalize on such a unique event.
Denner said some of the unique challenges the county will face include transportation, with limited highways in the central zone of the eclipse.
Some areas may face mass congestion, especially with viewers pulling off to the side of the highway or other public highways for viewing.
That mass congestion will also potentially cause issues with cell phone coverage, with thousands of extra devices taking up the already limited bandwidth in many areas.
The inability to make calls in the event of a medical emergency are a concern, especially now that land lines are no longer prevalent, Denner told legislators.
This will be the last total solar eclipse until 2144, 120 years away.