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Eclipse provides teachable moments for students before arrival, county schools closed on Monday

By Joanne Beck
Julia Rogers with students
Julia Rogers, community schools coordinator for Batavia City School District, with students.
Submitted Photo

All county schools will be closed on Monday because of the total solar eclipse. The village of Corfu has booked activities at Pembroke Intermediate School beginning on Saturday, while Elba Central School will host several activities on Monday. 

The decision to close Batavia City Schools was made “to prevent any potential risks associated with walking home in reduced visibility and to cut down potential driving hazards during the eclipse,” said Community Schools Coordinator Julia Rogers. “While no formal events have been planned for the district, we have shared many resources and safety tips with our families and have included them in our community schools' local activities calendar so that our families can participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event.”

The district formed a Total Eclipse Planning Committee of 25 people from all school buildings, she said, including administrators, teachers, aides and clerical members who worked with their buildings on developing awareness for students.

“We have been teaching students about the Eclipse since January throughout various lessons, such as:

  • Read-alouds of “Genny SEES the Eclipse” during library time and Family Nights 
  • Astronomy units in science classes  
  • Building-wide art contests 
  • Guest visits from Genny the cow
  • Discussions of cloud formations and how to be a scientist with Kelly March from Richmond Memorial Library 
  • Safety during the Eclipse
  • STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) lessons dedicated to the eclipse
  • Designing pinhole viewers
  • Space exploration in 21st Century Learning Center's after school programming
  • Playing eclipse games and singing eclipse songs during physical education and music classes 
BCSD eclipse games
Batavia City Schools students playing eclipse-themed games with Marc Anthony Bucci of United Way.
Submitted Photo

John Kennedy Intermediate School focused on the eclipse during school family meetings, students played a trivia game to share their knowledge, took photos with Genny the cow, and sang a rap that music teacher Robin Crowden wrote about the eclipse.

Middle School students in Spine Support Club, a student volunteer group based out of the school library, Junior National Honor Society and Mentor Club, along with library staff and faculty, put together over 900 Make and Take craft bags for students to take home during the break, Rogers said.

“After the eclipse, middle school students will be sharing information about what they saw, heard, and what they'll always remember and add it to an interactive bulletin board,” she said.

Genny visit BCSD
Genny the Cow.
Submitted Photo

The Chamber of Commerce gave copies of “Genny SEES the Eclipse,” a children’s book about how animals experience the eclipse, to the school libraries, “and each level used it in a variety of ways and they also provided our students with the safety glasses they would need to look at the eclipse,” she said.

United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes and Paychex provided us with 600 more glasses, so that we were able to distribute them to families on Wednesday, she said. 

Word had it that many people would be taking the day off from work to participate in eclipse viewing activities, and some employers, such as the school districts, made the decision easy by closing. Genesee County will close government offices by noon on Monday, and the board of Western New York Independent Living Family of Agencies voted to give the staff of most of their offices in Batavia, Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Niagara Falls, Lockport, and Albion a paid day off for the occasion, a press release stated.

Independent Living officials want to remind those who are blind or have a visual impairment that the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service, in conjunction with NASA, can provide an alternative way to experience the eclipse.

Radio Reading has secured 10 oversized braille books from NASA, and these books “allow people to feel what an eclipse will look like with their fingers and use them to trace the path of totality across a map of the United States,” said Michael Benzin, executive director of the service.

Radio Reading encourages its listeners and others with smartphones and tablets to get in on the event and download the free Eclipse Soundscape app. The app provides a multi-sensory experience where users will find a countdown, real-time narration of the event with illustrative audio descriptions and even a “rumble strip” that allows users to hear and feel the eclipse on their device as the eclipse progresses through each stage.  Plus, NFRRS will have a special program featuring local and national experts for two hours that afternoon, Radio Reading stated in a release issued Thursday.

For more information, go to

As for eclipse events happening sooner, there is a special visit from the “Genny Sees the Eclipse” artist Andy Reddout, who will be at the Chamber’s Visitor Center from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday. Chamber staff want folks to know that the Visitor Center will also be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Monday for those looking to purchase a pair of Genesee County Commemorative ISO-certified solar viewing glasses while supplies last. 

For more eclipse activities, go to our Eclipse Calendar 

phases of moon activity
Submitted Photo
BCSD student with Genny the cow
A Batavia City Schools student with Genny the Cow.
Submitted Photo

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