Tuesday, August 8, 2017

School canceled due to eclipse, with discord over timing of announcement

Posted By on Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 10:31 AM

Monday evening, Savannah-Chatham School Board Superintendent Jolene Byrne posted on her Facebook page that school will be canceled for safety reasons Aug. 21 due to the total eclipse that afternoon during a heavy transportation period.

"The solar eclipse presents a unique safety hazard during what it typically a very busy time on the road for parents and bus drivers," Byrne wrote.

The cancellation for students is apparently still the case. But because new School Superintendent Ann Levett reportedly considered Byrne's announcement to be premature, Byrne deactivated her entire Facebook page in response.

"She took her page down to avoid any conflicts," says a source close to the situation.

An email from Levett to staff obtained by Connect Savannah Tuesday morning confirmed that school will be canceled Aug. 21.

It says in part, "The information is correct. Aug. 21 will be a NO SCHOOL day for students and a work day for staff... More details will be provided to everyone — employees, families, and the public — this afternoon."

At about 11:45 a.m., Connect received an email from the school system making the official announcement, chalking the cancellation up to "inclement weather."

In the email, Superintendent Levett said, “Student safety remains our guiding factor as we consider all conditions surrounding this event. After reviewing various options and carefully weighing the pros and cons of each, it has been determined that school closure for students is the most responsible option. We also recognize the historical significance of this event for our country. The days leading up to the eclipse will present wonderful learning activities for our students which will also feature safety information regarding the dangers of looking at the sun during this occurrence.”

In her Facebook post, Byrne also said, "We also know that many parents want to experience this remarkable event with their children, and school attendance on that day is projected to be low."

Byrne went on to write, "A half-day was considered, but the logistics of getting children home in time proved to be impractical."

A make-up day will not be required, according to the school district. All staff will be required to report to work as normal.

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