The St. Joseph School District may add another dark day on the school calendar for the solar eclipse in August. Board members will vote March 27 to amend the school calendar to include a day off on August 21.
Superintendent Dr.Robert Newhart told board members Monday the district had planned to make the eclipse August 21st an educational event, but changed their minds in the face of ongoing developments.
Trails West is adding another festival day that Monday, and emergency officials urged the district not to have classes. Both teachers groups were very strongly opposed to having classes that day, according to district officials.
“It’s an abnormality. It’s not something we expect yearly,” Dr. Newhart said. “We decided the best solution is not to be in session that day, and make it an additional paid day for next year.”
“This will reduce the number of built-in days from five to four, and any additional make up days beyond four would be made up at the end of the school year,” he said. The board will be presented with an amendment to the formal school calendar to reflect the change.
Newhart says the thousands of special eclipse-glasses donated to the district will be distributed on the Friday before the event.
Tens of thousands of people are already making travel plans to be here to witness the moon traveling in front of the sun. Authorities say St. Joseph will be the third best place in the U.S. to watch. It’s expected to turn day into night here for a totality lasting an estimated two minutes and 38 seconds.
This year’s event is still five months out, but there’s already a rush on rooms in the area. Officials are taking reservations for primitive camping and some RV camping at Rosecrans Airport and Heritage Park. Tourism officials say there are no more single-night hotel rooms available in St. Joseph for that day, although you can still book multiple-night packages. Beth Conway of the Convention and Visitors Bureau recommends you call the local phone number and ask, rather than going through a national switchboard or Web site.
“So people with rental property, and even people who don’t mind pitching a tent in their back yard, should definitely consider renting out their property for that weekend online,” Conway said. “They can make some good money.”
Find out more at the bureau’s Web site here.