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Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 10:35 PM
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Hutto ISD reveals eclipse plans

Hutto ISD reveals eclipse plans
Brittany Swanson, associate superintendent of instruction and innovation, Henry Gideon, assistant superintendent of operations, and Noelle Newton, Noelle Newton, executive director of communications and community relations, present eclipse plans to Hutto Independent School District trustees. Photo by Hunter Dworaczyk

HUTTO — Hutto Independent School District officials described their plans for a rare upcoming celestial event during their Thursday, March 28 school board meeting.

A total solar eclipse is set to pass through Williamson County Monday, April 8, in the afternoon. While the eclipse lasts for about three hours, the totality portion will occur at around 1:30 p.m. and only last about three minutes.

District officials said they have been preparing for months to ensure students can appreciate this spectacle in a safe manner.

“We have been planning very, very thoroughly to make sure that day is engaging and it’s safe,” said Brittany Swanson, associate superintendent of instruction and innovation. “We are fully committed to making sure students are safe in Hutto ISD schools. Not only that they are safe, they are having a really rich learning experience with a lot of engagement.”

Part of safety preparations involved figuring out how students can look at the eclipse without hurting their eyes. Swanson said a former Hippo educator donated 15,000 solar eclipse glasses from Australia that have not been used.

According to Swanson, students will be required to use the protective lenses if they want to view the eclipse, but parents can opt their kids out of participating entirely if they wish.

Swanson said a lot of the planning involves preparing for an influx of traffic from travelers attempting to witness the eclipse. According to the National Weather Service, the most recent total solar eclipse within North or Central Texas was in 1878. The agency said after this year’s eclipse, there won’t be another in the region until 2317.

“What we’re learning from county and state officials, I think our neighbors in the Hill Country are expecting much greater problems with traffic,” Swanson said. “But we are part of the total eclipse zone, so we should anticipate higher than normal visitors and traffic in our area.”

Swanson said child and nutrition services will adjust lunch formatting to accommodate for a picnic-style lunch.

“It’s still a really good, healthy lunch, but it’s the kind of lunch that you can take outside and enjoy with your class,” she said.

Henry Gideon, assistant superintendent of operations, said the district has been meeting with Williamson County Emergency Operations to help coordinate Hutto ISD’s event action planning.

Gideon said a command post will be set up at the high school stadium’s press box with county officials and the city of Hutto to help coordinate traffic communications.

“The goal is to communicate really strongly about traffic so that first responders can move around,” Gideon said. “That’s really the key, which is why some of the schools out west in the Hill Country that have less resources and don’t have major thoroughfares have elected to not have school that day.”


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