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School day extended for eclipse

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DeKalb County School District (DCSD) announced its intent to extend the school day by one hour on Aug. 21 to observe an upcoming solar eclipse.

The eclipse—the first to cross the United States in approximately 100 years, scientists say—is expected to take place Aug. 21 from approximately 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. in various stages.

In DeKalb County, the eclipse will begin at approximately 2 p.m. and end at approximately 3:30 p.m., according to the University of California Berkeley’s eclipse simulator.

According to NASA, the eclipse will occur across North America, with the moon obscuring 97.4 percent of the sun.

A DCSD spokesman said the district will extend the school day to provide safe viewing and instructional opportunities related to the event.

“Our three-tier dismissal system starts with elementary schools, followed by high schools, and finally middle schools,” state DCSD spokesmen. “Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s school to determine the exact dismissal time on Monday, Aug. 21.”

City Schools of Decatur (CSD) also will extend its school day by 30 minutes.

“The peak of the eclipse will occur right about dismissal time for our elementary schools,” reads a statement from CSD. “This rare phenomenon provides an amazing educational opportunity. Therefore, all CSD schools will delay dismissal by 30 minutes that day. This will allow all students to experience the peak of the eclipse in an educational environment while also addressing safety concerns related to midday darkness and distracted drivers.”

A CSD spokesman said the district considered an early dismissal but decided it was not the proper course of action because it may place more children around distracted drivers.

“I think the safety aspect is driving this decision for a number of school districts,” said Stan Jester, DCSD board of education member.

According to Berkeley’s Eclipse Megamovie Project, which intends to gather images from the eclipse and construct them into a film, it is unsafe to stare at the sun during an eclipse.

“Many science museums, libraries and astronomy clubs are distributing or selling eclipse viewing glasses,” the project’s website states. “Solar viewing glasses can also be purchased directly from manufacturers like Rainbow Symphony and American Paper Optics, and B&H Photo Video.”

 

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