For the eye health of Southwest Ohio’s next generation, Monday’s solar eclipse is the most dangerous school day afternoon since 1918 and area schools are scrambling to take safety precautions.
When the moon begins to eclipse the sun Monday afternoon tens of thousands of school children in Butler and Warren counties will be watching.
Almost all will do so with approved, protective eye wear.
But kids being kids, some may not and may try to steal a peek at the solar event without eye protection, which could lead to a painless and unnoticeable burning of the back walls of their eyeball. That could manifest itself into irreversible eye damage later in life.
Here’s how school officials in Butler and Warren counties are managing the risk:
Madison Local Schools: The district is requiring parents to sign permission forms approving of their children wearing school-supplied eye wear and participating in the outdoor viewing.
“Mother nature did not consult with us,” joked Madison Schools spokeswoman A.J. Huff.
The eclipse is a real, out-of-this-world learning event, said Huff, “and it’s an educational experience we don’t want our kids to miss.”
Besides the permission forms required for any participating Madison student, district officials have been encouraging school parents to take an active role in the lead up to the eclipse.
“We’re encouraging our parents to talk to their kids, but at the same time we don’t to miss the educational opportunity,” said Huff.
Monroe Local Schools: The district is requiring parents to sign permission forms approving of their children wearing school-supplied eye wear and participating in the outdoor viewing.
Hamilton City Schools: Schools will keep students inside during normal class hours, district officials said.
Lakota Local Schools: Each of the district’s 22 schools will handle the event differently.
“At Lakota, the event will look different from one school to the next,” said Lauren Boettcher, spokeswoman for Lakota.
“Some schools are taking kids outside, while others are using technology to study the event if they don’t have the means to purchase protective eyewear for every student. The eclipse is a great learning moment for our students, but as always, student safety is guiding exactly how we integrate it into the classroom,” Boettcher said.
Fairfield City Schools and Middletown City Schools will not have started classes by Monday.
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Mason City Schools: Mason High School Academic Coach Jill Arminio said, “the most memorable learning happens in real-time, in real-life.”
“Our district’s science teachers are so excited to use this very rare solar eclipse as a teaching moment that we hope creates memories that last a lifetime,” she said.
Each school has special events planned for students, according to a statement from the district.
Little Miami Local Schools: The district has purchased safety glasses for all students, and some will be watching the celestial event as a part of their classroom learning.
Little Miami has also issued warnings to school parents and students about the optical dangers of the solar eclipse.
Children of those parents who don’t sign permission slips are being provided options, including safely watching the eclipse inside schools via internet live-streaming or participating in other indoor activities during the 1 to 3:50 p.m. eclipse window.