Caldwell wanted to bus 400 middle-schoolers to Weiser to see the total solar eclipse Aug. 21 — until teachers realized they’d be driving into a potential traffic nightmare. Now they’re lining up safety glasses and working on how to make the most of the eclipse at school for students in their second week of classes.
West Ada and Nampa schools delayed the start of school until Aug. 23 so students, and even some teachers, can travel the hour or more north of the Valley to be in the path of totality. About 30 Boise science teachers are planning a teacher-only field trip that day — and to be back in town for the start of classes Aug. 22.
Boise State University is delaying classes until afternoon on Aug. 21, and knows attendance on Eclipse Day will be light.
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Because Idaho’s appointment with the total eclipse on Aug. 21 comes around the time classes traditionally begin, Treasure Valley schools are having to contend with when and how to start classes — or incorporate the much-awaited event into the scheduled school day.
Here is a look at how Valley schools are dealing with this stellar event:
Boise State University: Classes are scheduled to start on Eclipse Day. But the university has decided to start classes at 1 p.m. and is asking professors to be lenient on students who decide to take the full day to go see the eclipse, which will not be visible in its totality in Boise. The university is also planning an eclipse-watching party from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the quad. More details to come.
West Ada and Nampa School districts: Both districts moved opening day to give kids and families an opportunity to see the eclipse. West Ada and Nampa start Aug. 23. Eclipse Day is a working day for teachers, but the districts expect some of them to take a personal day to go see the eclipse.
Boise School District: Classes start Tuesday, Aug. 22. The district typically uses the Monday before for open houses or to let students get a sneak peak at their schools. District officials plan to move those events to the week before, because of the eclipse. Teachers who will be working on Monday and want to see the eclipse can ask for a personal day off. About 30 science teachers are planning a trip, possibly to the Cascade area, to see the total eclipse.
Caldwell School District: Classes begin Aug. 15, the week before the eclipse. Both elementary and secondary schools are planning a day packed with eclipse curriculum and viewing parties to take advantage of the eclipse in Caldwell, where they will be able to see about 90 percent coverage of the sun by the moon. That’s less than totality that can be viewed north in places like Weiser, Cascade and Idaho City, but still an experience.
Several elementary schools are raising money through the website DonorsChoose.org to get money to purchase glasses for their students to view the eclipse. Teachers are hoping to spend the morning studying about the eclipse before going outside to view it, said Kelly Garey, a second-grade teacher at Van Buren Elementary and the science, technology, engineering and math coordinator for Caldwell elementary schools.
Middle school science teachers had hoped to pile more than 400 students into 11 school buses for a field trip to Weiser to see the full eclipse, but were dissuaded as estimates for crowds rose into the multiple thousands, said Melyssa Ferro, a science teacher at Syringa Middle School. Police and transportation officials are warning people to expect heavy or jammed-up traffic.
Caldwell middle schools are reaching out to partners for help getting up to 1,400 pair of eclipse glasses for students. People interested in helping can email Ferro at firstname.lastname@example.org. The schools also plan a day of eclipse education including science, history and culture.
Caldwell High School plans to give students eclipse glasses at registration and are working on having a barbecue while they are outside viewing the eclipse. The school will incorporate the eclipse into various subjects they teach that day, including math.
What will Boise see on Eclipse Day? Darkness, maybe stars
If you have to stay in town on Eclipse Day, you will miss out on the total eclipse. The path of totality includes Weiser, Cascade and Idaho City, but not the Boise area.
But we’re close enough to the path of totality that we won’t miss much. People in Boise will definitely experience the eclipse, said Brian Jackson, assistant professor of physics at Boise State University.
The moon is expected to block 99.5 percent of the sun in the Boise area. It may not be like the dark of night, but it will be close, he said. You may possibly see stars.
One caution: Be sure to wear protective glasses while looking even at a partial eclipse, Jackson says.
The moment when the sun will be most obscured by the partial eclipse should be around 11:30 a.m.
Washington County declares emergency ahead of eclipse
Washington County commissioners, expecting to get tens of thousands of visitors eager to witness the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, passed an emergency declaration that will let them ask for money if things get out of hand.
The declaration said that the solar eclipse may cause risks to public safety, financial damage and excess costs for labor, clean up and property damage, KIVI-TV reported. Weiser is the seat of the county, which sits along the Oregon border. It’s the first Idaho community that will see the eclipse in its totality.
A county spokesman said commissioners passed the declaration so they could ask the state for assistance in case more resources are need. It remains in effect until the end of August.
More eclipse info at IdahoStatesman.com
▪ Find a list of the times the eclipse will affect various Idaho communities.
▪ Learn more on the eclipse and things to do at the Visit Idaho website.
▪ The Idaho Department of Commerce has information on how communities should be planning for the eclipse, along with a number of eclipse facts.