Schools put safety first in plans for solar eclipse
Monday, Aug. 21, will be the first time in 99 years that a total solar eclipse will cross the nation coast-to-coast. The moon will pass between the sun and Earth, fully or partially blocking the sun, making it look like early evening in the middle of the day. In Florida, the solar eclipse will be at about 85 percent totality, which means the moon will almost completely cover the sun. Some scientists have said this won’t happen again in Florida until 2045! People of all ages around the country are making plans to experience this rare event.
But the peak time to experience the solar eclipse occurs while our students are scheduled to be in school or are leaving for the day. The event begins around 1:30 p.m., with the height of the eclipse occurring around 3 p.m. It should conclude around 4:30 p.m.
NASA says the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses,” hand-held solar viewers or through pinhole projection. Looking directly at the sun without proper protection can damage eyes.
Because safety is a top priority for our district, we are requiring that all outdoor school activities regularly scheduled between 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. be moved indoors. This includes physical education classes, recess, and sports practices.
With principal approval, teachers may choose to plan structured activities to help students safely observe the eclipse using eyewear recommended by the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Parents who do not want their children to participate in activities related to the solar eclipse are asked to send a note to the school by Friday, Aug. 18.
At minimum, we are asking all teachers to talk with students about the solar eclipse including warnings not to look directly at the sun without protective eyewear. Parents are asked to reinforce this message at home. This will be particularly important as our dismissal times will coincide with the timing of the eclipse.
Students who are absent or check out of school early on Monday, Aug. 21, so they can experience the eclipse with their families will be allowed to make up any missed assignments and they will not be penalized for their absences.
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