DeKalb County School District to close for solar eclipse

Hundreds of parents, students, and staff members are sounding off in the comment section of a DeKalb County School District post about school being closed on April 8 in anticipation of a total solar eclipse.

Officials with the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) announced on March 20 that the school district would be closed on April 8, extending an already-planned spring break by one day.

“In observance of the Great American Eclipse on April 8, DCSD will designate this day as an independent learning day for students and school-based employees,” DCSD’s announcement reads. “This decision allows for the creation of safe viewing and educational experiences related to the partial solar eclipse, which will be visible in DeKalb County from 1:45 p.m. to 4:21 p.m. While Georgia will not witness the full eclipse, the partial view still offers a unique learning opportunity.”

A total solar eclipse—which is when the moon completely blocks the visible surface of the sun—will sweep across 15 states, including Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, and Illinois. The next total solar eclipse that can be seen from the contiguous United States will be in 2044.

Observers viewing the eclipse from outside the path of totality—including in Georgia—may observe a partial eclipse, where the moon covers most but not all of the sun, states NASA’s website.

The post by DCSD has received 300 comments and more than 300 shares with some expressing frustration over the announcement, which was not included as a holiday in the school calendar distributed at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.

“Independent Learning Days are suboptimal for student education and disruptive to families, particularly for parents unable to arrange childcare or work from home,” said Wayne Liang. “Why was this announcement made just a few weeks before the event? The day would have been more educational if students stayed in school and received classroom instruction on solar eclipses.”

Other commenters said the school district was making the right decision regarding student safety.

“The eclipse will be happening during school dismissal,” said MaKeisha Adams. “What other option is there, extending the school day? Let’s make the day fun and educational; ask teachers for suggestions to learn about the eclipse.”

During a partial eclipse, observers with proper eyewear will see the moon gradually cross in front of the sun, making it look like larger and larger bites are being taken out of the sun’s disk until the eclipse reaches its maximum point, states The Planetary Society’s website. Other phenomena that will be present and viewable in Georgia during the eclipse are crescent and/or eclipse shadows and changes in animal behavior.

The most important way to be prepared is by making sure anyone observing the eclipse has proper eye protection, stated The Planetary Society’s website. “There is no time during a partial eclipse when it’s safe to look directly at the eclipsed sun. Eclipse safety glasses and handheld viewing devices are the most common way to safely observe an eclipse,” states the website.

For more information, visit dekalbschoolsga.org and planetary.org.

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