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Brighton reverses course and cancels school for eclipse day

The Brighton High School building. A sign in the foreground gives the school name.
Brian Sharp
Brighton High School on March 30, 2023.

Brighton was the only school district in Monroe County planning to hold classes on April 8 — the day of the total solar eclipse — with a half-day of instruction.

But not anymore.

Superintendent Kevin McGowan announced Friday that the Brighton Central School District would close after all.

The decision comes with two weeks' notice. Other districts had their calendars set at the beginning of the school year.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding,” McGowan wrote in a mid-morning message to families. “We recognize that changes in the calendar cause challenges for families. We’re hopeful that having two weeks to plan for this as opposed to the suddenness of an unanticipated snow day will be helpful for your planning.”

McGowan explained the decision by saying that not having to use snow days given the mild winter provided flexibility in the calendar. Most of the town’s day care providers are closing, which resulted in 140 changes in transportation plans for kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

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There also is the question of what traffic might be like in the hours before totality. Planners have focused on the period after totality and not modeled the hours before.

Brighton students also will be off two days after the eclipse for Eid al-Fitr, an Islamic holiday.

The district has 3,785 students enrolled, records show, and 701 professional and support staff.

Brian Sharp is WXXI's investigations and enterprise editor. He also reports on business and development in the area. He has been covering Rochester since 2005. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.