National News

Metro Atlanta students can't leave school to see solar eclipse for 'safety reasons'

Posted July 27

— When the sun temporarily disappears, some school districts don't want students to be on the road.

Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties are announcing school that day will last 45 minutes later, so students won't leave until the eclipse has passed.

Other districts are still considering what they will do.

One spokesperson suggested drivers may be distracted, but another reason the schools are concerned is because they worry the kids will feel compelled to stare directly at the sun without protection.

Only the very northeast corner of Georgia will see a 100 percent total eclipse on August 21. The rest of us on the other side of a diagonal line from Blue Ridge to Elberton will see close to a full eclipse, but not quite.

The animation in simulation videos can make it seem like the transition from light to dark will take place in an instant, but that's not really how it will happen. The dimming down will be a gradual process, and when the eclipse is at its fullest, there will be a twilight level of darkness.

The school districts aren't sharing whether they plan to have organized viewing, but April Whitt hopes they don't keep the students locked inside the whole time. She teaches astronomy at the Fernbank Science Center.

Even if the proper protection does not exist in the schools, she suggests teachers use other indirect methods to let the children view the eclipse. She suggested projecting the light onto another surface with a mirror, or watching the ground to see shadows change from circular to crescent shapes.

"If you want to look at it, if you want to observe it, don't use sunglasses," explained Whitt. "And don't use shades that are scratched or have holes in them."

Whitt said the only types of shades that won't damage your eyes are the kind that are specially marked with this international code: ISO 12312-2-2015

According to NASA, anything without that label may leave your eyes without enough protection.

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