Marion County Public Schools canceling outdoor activities during solar eclipse

Marion County Public Schools is canceling all outdoor activities between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 for safety reasons related to the solar eclipse.

The district will move those activities indoors, where students can safely view the solar eclipse on appropriate television channels and online websites.  The district is also sharing educational information and resources with students, teachers, parents and others to make this natural event a learning experience. 

Though elementary school dismissal takes place during the three-hour timeframe, teachers, administrators and bus drivers will remind students to not look directly at the sun during the ride home.

In addition to repeated safety reminders this week, the district also encourages parents to discuss this natural phenomenon and safe viewing decisions with their children. Extra caution is also urged because afternoon drivers may be distracted, creating additional hazards on the road.

The eclipse offers great learning opportunities for students and adults, but many may be unaware of the dangers. Even looking directly at a small part of the eclipse is too dangerous, as the normal squint response will not occur and the eye will be exposed to dangerous amounts of Ultraviolet light. The cornea will focus the light and actually scorch the retina.  The most concerning part?  There is no pain involved with retinal damage. By the time the damage is done, it is too late. 

The district will contact parents twice this week with targeted Sklyert messages sharing this information and urging more discussion and education.