Eclipse school preperations

Twin Falls High School science teachers Ashley Moretti, left, and Candace Wright, right, use their eclipse shades to look at the sun as they pose for a portrait July 18 at Twin Falls High School. The Twin Falls School District is ordering 11,000 eclipse shades for students and faculty to use during the eclipse.

PAT SUTPHIN, TIMES-NEWS FILE PHOTO

SHOSHONE — Monday is a big day — and not just because of the total solar eclipse.

It’s the first day of school in Shoshone, Bliss, Wendell, Camas County in Fairfeld, St. Edward’s Catholic School in Twin Falls and the College of Southern Idaho.

The eclipse and an expected influx of travelers heading to the path of totality is creating challenges for school leaders. Some school districts, including Jerome, have pushed back their start date. Others, like Buhl, have canceled school altogether.

In Shoshone, school officials have contingency plans in case U.S. 93 — a highway travelers often take on their way to the Wood River Valley — is blocked.

Superintendent Rob Waite said the district has been in close contact with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office to prepare.

Shoshone’s seventh through 12th graders are heading back to school Monday. Elementary schoolers don’t start until Tuesday, but there’s a meet-your-teacher event planned on eclipse day.

“We’re just planning on doing our regular high school (bus) routes and trying to follow the regular routine,” Waite said.

The worst-case scenario: School will be canceled if buses can’t make it to campus, he said.

Waite said he hopes he has over-prepared for the eclipse. He said his fingers are crossed everything will run smoothly.

Originally, Shoshone Middle/High Senior High School planned to offer an optional field trip for students to Arco to watch the eclipse.

But it nixed that idea after receiving feedback about not wanting children to potentially get stuck in traffic.

Instead, the school has bought solar glasses for teenagers to use and they’ll watch the eclipse from the football field.

At the College of Southern Idaho, fall semester begins Monday and most of its campuses — including Twin Falls — will be open.

But the Hailey and Idaho Falls off-campus centers, the ones most affected by the eclipse due to its proximity to the path of totality, will be closed.

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CSI Head Start preschool classes started this week. Classes running on eclipse day Monday are six hours long and parents are bringing their children to school, director Mancole Fedder said.

The one exception: Head Start school buses will run in Shoshone.

Children are slated to arrive at the center by 9 a.m. Monday and stay until 3 p.m., Fedder said.

In Wendell, school buses will cross over Interstate 84 to pick up and drop off children, but the town itself isn’t expected to be a high-traffic area Monday.

“Where our district is, we feel our buses are going to be fine with picking up kids and taking them home,” Superintendent Greg Lowe said.

As a school administrator, Lowe said he hasn’t experienced anything like preparing for the eclipse. It has been a topic of conversation for a few months.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it’s exciting, Lowe said, but has to be done right at the school. “We’ve worked hard to make sure we have a really safe and meaningful experience for our kids on Monday.”

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