Tampa Bay Area school districts release plans for solar eclipse on Monday

TAMPA BAY, Fla. - School districts in the Tampa Bay Area have sent out their plans for the solar eclipse taking place on Monday, August 21, 2017

Scroll down to view the statements and precautions being taken from your child's school district. 

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY

Hillsborough County Public Schools is planning for the upcoming solar eclipse on Monday, April 21, with several educational opportunities and safety tips for our schools.

  • Our schools are encouraged to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for science learning. Principals and teachers are being provided information on safe viewing practices, which include viewing the eclipse through special glasses or an eclipse viewer box.
  • The eclipse will occur during school time and dismissal at our schools. Safety is a top priority. All school sponsored in-school and afterschool activities between 1:15 and 4:15 p.m. must take place indoors, unless it’s for educational eclipse lessons that follow safety procedures. Class changes, dismissals and other similar procedures can take place – but students will be reminded not to look at the sun, as it can cause permanent damage. The district is sending the attached information to schools and families reminding them, Don’t Look Up!
  • The Communications Office is gathering a list of schools that are planning eclipse lessons for potential coverage by interested media. Please contact Tanya Arja at (813) 272-4060 for more information.

HERNANDO COUNTY

Awaiting information from this county.

PINELLAS COUNTY

In the afternoon of Monday, August 21, 2017 Pinellas County will experience a partial solar eclipse.  A partial solar eclipse is when the moon transverses in between the Earth and the sun.  The partial solar eclipse will begin at 1:17 p.m. and last until 4:13 p.m. with a maximum coverage being reached at 2:49 p.m.

Observing the sun can be dangerous to the eyes if proper precautions are not taken.

To minimize the likelihood that students will look directly at the sun and risk damaging their eyes we are asking that before Monday, August 21, 2017: ALL PARENTS speak to their children about the eclipse, the dangers of looking directly at the sun, and the potential damage this can cause to their eyes.  In the interest of safety, Pinellas County Schools is highly recommending that students, faculty, and staff view the eclipse virtually through a live broadcasted feed provided by NASA.

We are also asking parents to use an abundance of caution while driving during the time of the eclipse, and to be especially careful in the parent pickup area at school to avoid distracted drivers, students and pedestrians. Regular dismissal will not be affected.

Here is a link to a Scientific American informational article “Science Says Why We Can’t Look at the Sun” by Rachael Rettner (Copyright 2017 Live Science) on the risks when looking directly at the sun. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/science-says-why-we-cant-look-at-the-sun/.

If you choose to provide the opportunity for students to view the solar eclipse directly, the following safety guidelines must be followed:

1. Teachers must use the district approved permission slip. See the attached form.
2. Every student and Pinellas County School employee must use solar viewers that are verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 International Safety Standard for such products. There are many reports of fake glasses and tools that may not provide protection needed. Sunglasses, cameras (including cell phone cameras), telescopes, binoculars or other optical devices are not compliant with the ISO standard and will not provide sufficient protection.

Students will also be impacted during after school activities, dismissal and transport from school. Administrators and teachers should be prepared to address students directly about the risk involved and discourage students from looking at the sun directly during this time.

Further information to enrich students’ learning experience related to the eclipse can be found at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov

DOWNLOAD PERMISSION SLIP HERE - Pinellas County Schools

Thank you for your support. If you have questions, please contact your child’s school.

POLK COUNTY

Polk County Public Schools has issued safety information for parents, employees and students in advance of the upcoming solar eclipse.

  • Polk County will experience a partial solar eclipse on Aug. 21.
  • During this event, the moon will cover a large portion of the sun. In Polk County, the eclipse will begin at 1:18 p.m. and end at 4:14 p.m., with maximum coverage of the sun occurring at 2:50 p.m.
  • The eclipse poses numerous learning opportunities, but also several dangers. Looking directly at the sun during an eclipse, even for a short time, can cause permanent vision damage.
  • To minimize the risk to students, Polk County Public Schools will move all outdoor activities, such as athletic practices, band rehearsals and after-school programs, indoors between the hours of 1:15 and 4:30 p.m. Dismissal times will not be effected.
  • Children who are outside during these times for other reasons, such as for pickup, will also be moved indoors.
  • In addition to these precautions, student absences on the day of the eclipse will be excused.
  • The school district is also emphasizing, both to its employees and parents, that eyewear must meet specific NASA-issued requirements in order to offer sufficient protection for viewing the eclipse. Sunglasses and homemade devices do not meet these requirements, which can be viewed here.
  • Transportation-related employees, particularly bus drivers, are being instructed to use extreme caution during the eclipse to avoid distracted drivers and pedestrians. School-based employees and parents should also use caution, especially during school dismissal and while driving on or near school campuses.
  • Bus drivers will also be warning bus riders about the dangers of looking directly at the partially obscured sun.
  • District staff will call and email parents via SchoolMessenger to remind them that outdoor activities will be moved indoors during the eclipse, that they should use caution while driving during the eclipse, and that they should talk with their children about the dangers of looking directly at the sun.

PASCO COUNTY

A total solar eclipse will occur next Monday, August 21, 2017, in some parts of the country; Pasco County will see between a 60 percent and 80 percent solar eclipse. This eclipse is special because people can only see it from inside the United States. It is the first time that an eclipse like this has happened in nearly 100 years. Some Pasco County Schools dismiss at 2:50 p.m., the time when looking directly at the eclipse can cause the most damage to the eyes. It is important to talk to students about safety precautions both at school and at home!

Educational plans for the eclipse:

  • No Pasco County elementary schools will have lessons outdoors, but some secondary school activities will be outdoors. All outdoor eclipse lessons will use proper safety procedures. All participants must use solar viewers verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 International Safety Standard.
  • If a viewing activity is organized by a teacher as part of a science lesson, parents must complete a signed parent permission form for each participating student and return it to their teacher by Monday morning, August 21. Parents who do not want their children to be a part of any outdoor eclipse plan must let their school know in advance.
  • At this time, all Pasco County Schools will operate on their regular schedules, but some may use rainy day dismissal procedures to ensure students are supervised.
  • If parents want their children to view the eclipse at home, they can pick them up early or keep children at home that day; it will be an excused absence if accompanied by a note from a parent.
  • All activities, including P.E., recess, and athletic practices, will be held indoors from 1:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

MANATEE COUNTY

The School District of Manatee County has issued the attached “Student Safety Advisory for Solar Eclipse” to provide guidelines to our schools, staff, students and parents for the partial solar eclipse that will be visible in Manatee County on Monday, August 21, 2017.

In part, the guidelines include the following measures designed to ensure student safety:

  • All outdoor activities between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. will be moved indoors (this applies to ALL schools and includes activities such as physical education, recess, athletic practices, band practices, aftercare programs, etc.) Outdoor activities may resume after 4:30 p.m.
  • School Principals and Staff will hold bus and car riders indoors until their buses or cars arrive.
  • Viewing of the eclipse will be limited to virtual viewing in safe indoor settings. ABC Action News will broadcast live during the astronomical event
  • We ask ALL parents to speak to their children in advance of the eclipse about the dangers of looking directly at the sun and the potential harm it can cause to their eyes.
  • “Making a decision on how to best handle the upcoming solar eclipse was extremely difficult because we recognize both its historic and educational aspects,” said Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene.
  • “However, our first and foremost priority is the safety of our students. Because we have more than 49,000 students and we cannot assure that all of them will have the proper eye equipment to safely watch the eclipse, we are coming down on the side of safety as outlined in our Student Safety Advisory for the Solar Eclipse. While we encourage our teachers and schools to view the eclipse in a safe indoor setting on TV or by live streaming, we also ask for the help of our parents, teachers and staff to reinforce the need for our students to be safe and to avoid looking at the sun during the eclipse. We will spend the next week getting this information out in a variety of ways, including hard copies to students through our schools, our district website, social media, our mobile app MySDMC and through electronic phone messaging.”

SARASOTA COUNTY

The Sarasota County School District has sent information to principals about the solar eclipse that will be visible in the continental U.S. on Monday, Aug. 21. While the total phase of this solar eclipse will not be visible in Sarasota County, it will be observed here as a partial solar eclipse between the hours of 1:15 and 4:15 p.m.
The district will distribute information to parents via an automated phone call, email, website and other communication channels. We have sent our principals the following guidelines:

Looking directly at the Sun without approved safety glasses is dangerous, but there are several safe methods that any teacher can employ to ensure the safety of his or her students while observing. No matter which method teachers choose, they must make certain directions are understood and followed. This means constant monitoring of students, with zero tolerance for disregarding the directions.

Precautions:

  • The NASA website emphasizes the importance of carefully following safety procedures. Retinal burns can occur if someone views the eclipse without the recommended eye protection.
  • Because the eclipse will occur when most children are being dismissed from school, we are cautioning our principals. (Sarasota schools let out from 2:15 to 4:15 p.m., depending on the school.) Whenever possible, students should wait in covered areas for buses during dismissal time.


District permission slips are required for eclipse activities:

  • Some classes are planning projects around this event. Parents will need to sign the required district permission slips before students can participate in eclipse activities. Only schools and classes that have pre-planned activities and the necessary approved safety eyewear for viewing the eclipse may host viewing activities, and only students with a signed district-approved permission slip may participate in these activities.

Outdoor activities:

  • All schools will move outdoor activities indoors between 1:15 and 4:15 p.m., except for approved eclipse activities for students with signed district parental permission forms. Outdoor activities that must be moved indoors include, but are not limited to aftercare, athletics, recess, physical education, and any other outdoor after-school events.

    
Early pick-up of students:

  • If parents wish to pick up their children before regular dismissal time at their school on Monday, Aug. 21, early dismissals will be allowed/excused. Parents may wish to pick up their child early for the following reasons, for example:
  • In the event their child’s school/class is not engaged in an eclipse activity and they wish to host an activity at home
  • If they have concerns there may be traffic issues
  • If they have concerns about their child walking or biking home or riding the bus


To quote our friends at Manatee County Schools: “We ask parents to use an abundance of caution while driving during the time of the eclipse, and to be especially careful in the parent pickup area at school to avoid distracted drivers, students and pedestrians.”

CITRUS COUNTY

Awaiting information from this school district. 

Print this article Back to Top