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Local schools prepare for Monday’s solar eclipse, some alter schedules

By Tanna Friday

For the Tribune

A total solar eclipse will pass coast-to-coast across the United States for the first time in 99 years this Monday, which is being referred to by NASA as “the most spectacular astronomical event that most people will experience in their lives.” While Alabama schools are using this event as an exciting and unique learning opportunity for students, some have banned outdoor activities due to safety concerns. 

Special glasses being distributed will give people a safe way to watch Monday’s eclipse.

A note from St. Clair district’s Superintendent Jenny Seals says, “The decision to ban the outdoor event is due to the recent concerns with eclipse glasses being sold without the proper ISO rating and the fact that glasses are designed to fit adults.  In addition, the inability of teachers to carefully monitor students during this event has led to the ban.”

Superintendent Seals and other district concerns arise from the potential risks of viewing the eclipse outdoorsBoth scientist and doctors have issued warnings that it is unsafe to look at the the sun during the solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Even dark sunglasses are not appropriate eye wear. 

Although Alabama won’t see a total eclipse on Monday, unlike many states in the center of the country, between noon and 3 p.m., the Birmingham area will be in the path of a partial solar eclipse. During this time, 80 percent of the sun will be covered at the peak, which will occur at 1:31 p.m. It is important to remember even looking at a partial eclipse can cause injury to the naked eye. 

Jefferson County Schooland Trussville City Schools have planned to provide live streaming to view the eclipse in the classroom. Trussville K-8 is allowing parents to check out their child and grant the absence as excused.  However, Jefferson County is leaving the decision to the principals. According to a county wide email addressed to all principals regarding eclipse procedures, Dr. Shelley Vail-Smith, deputy superintendent for Teaching and Learning, made a couple of suggestions on how to address numerous questions regarding safety concerns:

• If schools have purchased glasses for every student and have been identified as safe eye protection, please make sure they were not those among the Amazon recall. The form must be completed for each student watching the eclipse that includes school information and informing parents that they have the choice of “opting out” from their student watching the eclipse outdoors.

• If schools have not purchased glasses for students, plan on allowing students to view the eclipse indoors via the internet.

For more information on Eclipse schedules, please contact your local school. 

Jefferson County Schools: www.jefcoed.com

St. Clair County School District: 205-594-7131

Trussville City Schools: 205-228-3000

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