Monday, August 21st will be a total solar eclipse in parts of the country when the moon comes between the Earth and the sun. It will only be a partial eclipse here, as the moon will only appear to block part of the sun. View this Phoenix Eclipse animation for reference.
Although it is always unsafe to look at the sun, it can be especially dangerous during an eclipse because you may not know that damage is occurring. As we do not have a supply of viewing glasses for every student, we need to make it clear that no one should try to look at the eclipse directly at the school. Children should not bring viewing glasses to school as they will not be allowed to use them.
For more information on the risks of looking directly at the sun, please see this Scientific American informational article, “Science Says Why We Can’t Look at the Sun,” by Rachael Rettner at www.scientificamerican.com/article/science-says-why-we-cant-look-at-the-sun/. Parents should talk to their older children about the eclipse, the dangers of looking directly at the sun and the potential damage that looking at the sun can cause to their eyes.
However, I am mindful that telling students not to look only tempts them! It may be best for younger children, early childhood and up to grades 2 or 3, not to bring it to their particular attention in advance. At the 63% maximum occultation here in Phoenix, there will not be a very deep darkening outside, certainly nothing like the spectacular impression within full shadow of the total eclipse. There will be another partial eclipse visible here in Phoenix in 2024, when they would be better able to appreciate what is happening.
The start of school and pickup will not be affected as the partial eclipse will begin here at 9:14 am and end by noon. It is likely that there will only be a particularly noticeable shadow after 10:00 am when 50% coverage is approached. It will reach the maximum blockage of 63% at 10:33 am when children would otherwise be out for morning break.
Early Childhood will be inside during this time as is their normal schedule. Grades will be kept in throughout break, except to go to the bathroom. An online viewing is being organized in middle school and high school.
I wish you a safe eclipse on Monday. And positive outcomes thereafter!
Charles D. Burkam, J.D.