Letter to Parents: Shifting of PD days in April

Dear Parents and Guardians,

On Monday, April 8th, a total eclipse of the Sun will take place across our region. This rare event, which last occurred here in 1972, will no doubt provide exciting learning opportunities for our students.

While it is a wondrous scientific event, there are risks associated with viewing a solar eclipse with the naked eye. The Canadian Association of Optometrists warns that “staring at the Sun without protection, may cause damage to one’s retina (the tissue at the back of your eye) called “solar retinopathy.” This damage can occur without any sensation of pain. The injury can be temporary or permanent.” The following link can provide additional information. *source The Canadian Space Agency website warns that looking at the eclipse without appropriate eye protection can lead to partial or total loss of eyesight. Complicating the situation is the fact the eclipse will take place in our region between 2:10 PM to 4:35 PM. This is the period of time our students will be boarding busses, travelling home by bus, being picked up by parents or walking home.

In analyzing potential risks to our students, we have looked at different options. We have consulted our colleagues from other school boards in our region and with those from across the province. After careful consideration of student and staff safety, the following decisions have been made:

Shifting of a PD Day

Our schools in Region 07 (Outaouais) have a Professional Development day scheduled on Friday, April 5th, while our schools in Region 08 (Abitibi-Témiscamingue) have a Professional Development day scheduled on April 2nd. We have made the decision to move the Friday, April 5th and Tuesday, April 2nd PD days to Monday, April 8th. Friday, April 5th and Tuesday, April 2nd will now become regular school days. This ensures students are not at risk during the eclipse and avoids any loss of class time and learning for our students. Daycare services are cancelled on Monday, April 8th.

Please note that classes at all of our Adult Education and Vocational Training Centres will be cancelled on Monday, April 8th.

I thank you for your cooperation and understanding in this matter.

George Singfield, Director General
Western Québec School Board

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