Schools wres­tle with eclipse fears

Some dis­tricts will can­cel classes or keep kids inside

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -

USA TO­DAY

Fears that chil­dren might per­ma­nently dam­age their eyes view­ing Mon­day’s so­lar eclipse have prompted school dis­tricts in or near its path to can­cel classes and, in some cases, pro­hibit stu­dents from ven­tur­ing out­side.

In Lee’s Summit, Mis­souri, school of­fi­cials gave ev­ery­one a day off — in part be­cause they wanted fam­i­lies to be able to travel to the eclipse’s nearby “path of to­tal­ity,” but also be­cause of “con­cerns re­lated to long-term vi­sion safety” dur­ing the eclipse.

In Scotts­dale, Ari­zona, the dis­trict told par­ents that schools will have no out­door ac­tiv­i­ties be­tween 9 a.m. and noon, while the eclipse takes place.

Nashville Pub­lic Schools re­versed course at the urg­ing of the city’s mayor, de­cid­ing to let stu­dents at­tend class on Mon­day af­ter ini­tially giv­ing them the day off.

Such fears are driv­ing science teach­ers nuts.

“Kids go to school ev­ery day — kids go out onto the play­ground ev­ery day,” said Dave Crowther, di­rec­tor of teacher ed­u­ca­tion at the Univer­sity of Ne­vada, Reno and pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Science Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. “This day is no dif­fer­ent from any other day in school.”

Much of the fear, he and oth­ers said, has been driven by a vi­ral Face­book post­ing by Michael Schecter, an Ohio op­tometrist who warned of “se­ri­ous risks as­so­ci­ated with view­ing a so­lar eclipse di­rectly, even when us­ing so­lar fil­ter glasses.”

Schecter’s post­ing warned that view­ing the par­tially eclipsed sun for less than 30 sec­onds can “burn a blind spot right to your most pre­cious cen­tral vi­sion.” He ad­vised: “Please, please be safe, or watch it on television if you do not have proper pro­tec­tion.”

Crowther, who on Mon­day will view his third so­lar eclipse, said the post­ing and fears of coun­ter­feit eclipse glasses have driven classes inside from coast to coast.

“You should be out­side,” he said. “You should be tak­ing part in this ab­so­lutely phe­nom­e­nal event and cel­e­brat­ing science — for good­ness’ sake!”

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