Salem-Keizer schools closing access to properties during solar eclipse

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Salem-Keizer schools closing access to properties during solar eclipse

Published 5:18 p.m. PT Aug. 11, 2017

All Salem-Keizer School District facilities will be closed to the public for the weekend of the solar eclipse through Aug. 21.

Closures include all 65 of the district’s schools. Campuses will be closed to the public from 5 p.m. Friday through 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22.

District officials said they are closing the properties due to safety concerns.

“The district can’t support (the) use of campuses at a time when emergency services may not be able to respond quickly if needed,” said Karma Krause, a spokeswoman for the district.

The exceptionally large number of visitors expected to travel to Salem and Keizer could create severe traffic problems, district officials said.

Local authorities anticipate delays in responding to emergency needs and will be prioritizing responses based upon available resources. This could mean limited, delayed or possibly no support for emergencies.

Another concern is keeping facilities in good shape for the start of the school year in early September.

“Any additional clean-up work to be done following the eclipse would make it harder to have facilities ready for the start of the school year,” Krause said. “The district would really appreciate it if visitors could find a place to camp besides these kinds of spaces.”

Salem-Keizer will have staff and security on site to enforce the closures.

Some school grounds share boundaries with City of Salem property. Eclipse watchers will be able to camp in city parks. Salem-Keizer will put up signs and have staff on hand to direct visitors away from district property.

Normal school rentals have been canceled or rescheduled during this time period, officials said. A few exceptions for use have been granted to some high schools for required programs on Saturday, Aug. 19 only.

Officials said the exceptions were granted through a “stringent and early application process,” and no additional exceptions to district facility use during the closure period will be granted.

Contact Natalie Pate at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745 or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist.

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