JSD 117 To Use SIP Day on April 8 Due to Solar Eclipse

By Benjamin Cox on March 25, 2024 at 3:15pm

An upcoming natural phenomena seen once every few hundred years will cause Jacksonville School District 117 to take the day off.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek says the concern lies in the timing of the upcoming complete solar eclipse coming up on April 8th. The path of totality is expected to be approximately 50 miles from Jacksonville.

Ptacek says a teacher pointed out that the time it’s supposed to happen will coincide with dismissal times for the district’s elementary schools: “The darkest period of the eclipse is going to be 2:01 here. We have Murrayville-Woodson buses that load at 2 o’clock. Shortly after that, many of our elementary schools start getting prepared for dismissal, with full dismissal at 2:30. So, it really got us thinking about our staff having to deal with dismissing students, lining them up, but ensuring that during dismissal that they are not looking up at this event; which at 2:30 could potentially be a partial eclipse in which everybody thinks it’s safe to look at but we know it’s not safe to look at. There was one whole aspect of safety. Another aspect is that this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many people to see the level of eclipse where we are located at.” Jacksonville is expected to see about a 95% coverage according to most maps.

Ptacek says that logistically it will be a bit of a problem to coordinate getting students out of the building who would have to have permission to see the eclipse while in turn keeping other students inside at the district’s buildings. Ptacek says the solution to the issue is using a SIP Day for early dismissal on April 8th to allow students to be home during the time of the eclipse and eliminating any conflicts with bus times and dismissals. More information about the eclipse can be found at this link.

Ptacek said in a follow up communication to parents that the SIP Day will not change the last day of scheduled attendance for students on May 29th.