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Education Minister on WRDSB’s decision to close schools for eclipse

Some strong words from Ontario’s Education Minister over the Waterloo Region District School Board’s sudden decision reversal on the total solar eclipse.

The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) first confirmed in early March that it would keep its schools open on Apr. 8 as it was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity’ for students.

However, this past Wednesday, the board announced that it was changing course and its schools will now be closed on Monday. It will be an asynchronous day of learning for students instead.

That’s drawing the ire of Stephen Lecce.

“It is entirely unacceptable for school boards to drop this on parents only days ahead of time,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce in a statement to CityNews Kitchener. “I have shared my expectations to school boards across Ontario — that children are to be in school and in front of their educators. It is not only indefensible to send kids home just days ahead of time, but it is insult to injury to do so without ensuring live access to their educator.”

Lecce called on the board to reconsider its decision.

The board did apologize to families impacted by the change, including those who needed to make alternative child care arrangements in just a few days.

A request has been sent to the WRDSB for comment on Lecce’s statement.

An update posted to the WRDSB website on Friday said all teachers are expected to be at work on Apr. 8 and that they will, “… engage in school learning and improvement planning. This work will take place alongside supporting student learning asynchronously.”

Many other Ontario schools, including Catholic schools in Waterloo Region, will also be closed on Monday because of the total solar eclipse as there are concerns kids will look directly at it when they’re walking home.

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