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Message from Superintendent of Schools about Solar Eclipse

Parents:

I want to share important information regarding the solar eclipse that will occur Monday August 21st. This will be the first total solar eclipse to occur coast to coast in the United States since 1918. This rare phenomenon is one that many people are excited to watch and it is a significant educational opportunity for our students.

My concern is always for the safety of our children and a solar eclipse can pose some danger to those who look directly at the sun. The only safe way to view an eclipse is by using special glasses designed for the specific purpose of viewing the event. These glasses need to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 International Safety Standard. Unfortunately, we have learned of reports that the market has been flooded with counterfeit versions of these glasses. We also have learned that online retailer Amazon has very recently recalled certain brands of eclipse glasses that were stamped with the ISO standard. The uncertainty created by this information poses a risk to our students that I am unwilling to take.

Therefore, I have decided that there will be no outside activities at any of Okaloosa County’s schools on Monday August 21st between the hours of 11:30 am and 3:15 pm. I assure you this decision was not made lightly; but rather was made after hours of research on both eclipse safety standards and eclipse glasses as well as consultation with surrounding school districts.

I would ask that you please have serious conversations with your children regarding the danger of looking at the sun anytime but especially during a solar eclipse. The peak of the eclipse will occur at 1:36 pm on Monday. This will be during some schools’ dismissal time. Students will be instructed on the safety precautions they need to observe before dismissal but we need your help in emphasizing the importance of them following the guidelines they receive from their school.

Our teachers will be using live streaming websites provided by NASA and Discovery Education to follow the eclipse as it unfolds across the nation so that our students are able to witness this rare event safely.

As always, I encourage you as parents, to make decisions that you feel are best for your student. It may help you to know that absences will be excused with a note from you on Monday August 21st if you choose to keep your child home during the solar eclipse.

Thank you so much for your support and assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,

Mary Beth Jackson, Superintendent of Schools

Copy of Superintendent's Letter to Parents