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Central Florida schools cancel all outdoor activities for solar eclipse

Schools say decision based on safety for students

SANFORD, Fla. – While the partial solar eclipse occurs over Central Florida on Aug. 21, many public schools will be keeping students indoors and canceling all outdoor activities for the duration of the astronomical event.

"Marion County Public Schools is cancelling all outdoor activities next Monday, between 1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m., for safety reasons related to the solar eclipse," the district said in a news release.

Marion County elementary schools will be in dismissal for part of the time.

The district encouraged parents to talk to their children and remind them to not look directly into the sun while on their way home from school the day of the eclipse.

Staring directly at the sun can cause permanent damage to the eyes, though there are other ways to experience the eclipse, using solar glasses or pinhole projectors.

Public relations officer Kevin Christian said Superintendent Heidi Maier made the decision based on student safety.

Parents and guardians will receive an alert message this week about the pause on outdoor activities.

While students won't be outside viewing the partial solar eclipse over Central Florida, Christian said teachers' lessons will include solar eclipse curriculum for that day. Students will also have access to view the eclipse on television or online.

“The eclipse will definitely be a topic of discussion for our classrooms during that time frame,” he said in an email to News 6.

After the eclipse ends at 4:30 p.m., all outdoor activities will be able to to resume.

Brevard County Public School students will be allowed an excused absence if their parents decide to keep them out of school or out of outdoor activities, Superintendent Desmond Blackburn said.

Regular dismissal will not be affected and outdoor activities will be moved inside during the eclipse, school officials said.

In Brevard County, the eclipse begins at 1:21 p.m. and ends at 4:17 p.m. Blackburn said he encouraged parents to talk to their children about the eclipse.

Orange County Public Schools said students will be allowed an excused absence with a note.

 

The district said for safety purposes all activities will be held indoors from 1:15-4:15 p.m., and dismissal will take place at regularly schedules times.

Seminole County Public Schools spokesman Michael Lawrence also told News 6 that all of its outdoor activities from 1:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. will be moved indoors.

"It's a challenge obviously," Lawrence said. "Our biggest concern is obviously the little ones who you tell to not looking into the sun. They're going to be apt to look into the sun and we don't want that to occur." 

Seminole County schools will be dismissed at their scheduled times.

"We still want out students to watch the eclipse," Lawrence said "It's obviously a very scientific and educational opportunity. What we're doing to encourage everybody to watch it safely, is to watch it on their TV screens in their classroom."

Students who are signed out by their parents prior to the eclipse will be excused beginning at 12:30 p.m. 

Lake County has a similar policy.

"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," officials said.

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.

Lake County 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.

Volusia County Public Schools said student safety is also its No. 1 concern.

"It will not be safe to view any part of the solar eclipse without proper eye protection," Volusia County Schools said.

All activities, including sports, extracurricular and extended day, will be held indoors until the eclipse ends at 4:15 p.m., Volusia school officials said.

Officials highlighted the danger in an email to News 6.

  • Even looking directly at a small part of the eclipse is too dangerous, as the normal squint response will not occur and the eye will be exposed to dangerous amounts of UV light. 
  • There is no pain involved and by the time the damage is done it is too late. 
  • The damage can be permanent and may not occur until the next day.

 


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