Schools wrestle with eclipse fears
Some districts will cancel classes or keep kids inside
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!”