Steve’s Ramblings: It was a good call to cancel school on the day of the eclipse

by Steve Dunford

The term “snowflake” is used a lot in our society today.  I have read some negative comments on social media regarding,  most schools in Franklin County will not be in session on the day of the eclipse, as well as across the region.  Every school in the county has made the decision to dismiss.   Benton High School will be making the decision soon.

This is something that will be new territory to all  emergency personnel and businesses in the region.  I posted this earlier this morning from Rick Linton, executive director from Rend Lake Area Tourism.   It was entitled, Eclipse Preparation for Local Residents .  When I was posting, my thoughts for the preparations taken were similar to if we had a major winter storm.

Here is a link to the post in case you missed it.  Please click on the title to read the full story.

Eclipse preparations for local residents

This is why I feel it is a good call.  If you read what Mr. Linton shared about avoiding I-57 and all state highways, we will be dealing with traffic here in Southern Illinois like we have never seen before.

The reserved camping spots at Rend Lake have been filled up for months. All hotel rooms from south of Effingham have been booked.   There will be a lot of people wanting to camp in peoples’ back yards as well.  There will be a lot of local people on the roads, trying to find a good viewing spot as well.  Officials have strongly advised not to pull over on the shoulder.

There are stretches of bus routes that can not avoid being on state highways.  When will people start heading toward Carbondale and other cities?  Exactly around the time school will start.  It would be a mess, and possibly a safety issue getting kids to school.

The eclipse will cross Southern Illinois about 1:20 p.m. in the afternoon.  Schools will be dismissing around 90 minutes later, give or take a few.  With the traffic, and the possibility that full sunlight might not be restored, it is safer for our students to be at home.

People have made the “I walked four miles uphill with two feet of snow on the ground, and it was uphill both ways, argument.”  These kids will end up being snowflakes staying home

Since I have been a substitute teacher over the years, I have been around a lot of administrators.  Here is one thing, the vast majority of school staff are there because they love kids.  The call was made to keep the students safe.

There is a balance calling off school or not.  Administrators wrestle with the decision.  I faced this in the years I pastored churches, whether to call off church or not in winter storms.   Several teachers worry if the kids will have adequate supervision, and the sad reality, will some kids be  able to get something to eat.

Some have claimed there will be a missed educational opportunity.  and there is no better place to be than school on that day.   The day can be dedicated to the eclipse, and it would be great to have the teacher explain things to them.   The argument has a point,  however, we need to go back to student safety as I mentioned before.

This is something that is non-related, but I am going to throw out there.  We had some oppressive heat about two weeks ago.  Area football teams were having camps, and 7 on 7 games.   I heard everything from kids should not be practicing to a “real coach” would not allow water breaks.  It will make them tougher in week one, and it builds character.

Being a sportswriter, I am around a lot of coaches.  A coach has a special bond with their players.  The last thing they would do is put them in harm’s way.  The IHSA has protocol about extreme heat.  There are mandatory water breaks, and players have to take their pads off for a period of time.  If you follow protocol, I have no problem with that.  My son’s coaches followed it, and kept an eye on all their players.

You might think I am “snowflakey” in some things I am about to say.  We need to heed Mr. Linton’s warnings.   I think the superintendents need to monitor the situation on Tuesday, whether or not to have school.   Starting Monday evening into Tuesday, you will see a mass exodus of people leaving Southern Illinois.  Like I said earlier, this is territory that we have never been before.

I think churches need to monitor the situation on Saturday.  If traffic is tied up everywhere, it needs to be considered calling off services.  The ones that would be there every time the doors are open, are the ones who don’t need to be out in it if there is a mess, the elderly.

You might be reading this and say “God will take care of us.”  There is another side of the coin, God gave us a brain to make good decisions as well.  I am not saying everyone needs to call off church, but it would be something to look at on Saturday.   On the flipside, it would be a great opportunity to minister to people around the globe.

Here is another “snowflakey” statement.  Schools have already made the decision to call off classes.  Retail and emergency workers will have to show up for work.  If something is non-essential, I feel like employers need to look at giving their employees the day off on Monday.  If it is bad as they say it is going to be, people will have a tough time getting to work on Monday.  I know Carbondale is in the center, but the mail will not run that day.

I do not think my views make me a snowflake.  I can give you several examples of a snowflake, but here is one.   When Donald Trump was elected president, several college campuses had safe places for their students, giving them crayons and coloring books.

I am sorry, but if you have a meltdown because of who was elected president, life will definitely throw you a lot more curves than that.  Some just  need to get mentally tougher.

As a conservative, I had fears when Barack Obama was elected president.  I feel this country slipped morally, but overall things turned out fine.  If you are stressing about President Trump, things will be ok.

I felt I had to throw that in about what a snowflake was.  Like Forrest Gump says, “Life is like a box of chocolates, we don’t know what we are going to get.”  We don’t know what we are facing with this.  I believe in life, that if there is an error made, it is best to make one on the cautious side.

So far there have been several meetings in Franklin County, among officials, to prepare for the eclipse.  After the event, they will have the chance to enhance what was right, and tweak mistakes for 2024.   Next week I will be making contact with several people how they are going to prepare for the event.

I was long winded again, and I apologize.  I wish you all the best until next time we meet.









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