Sarasota County School District planning for the partial solar eclipse on afternoon of Aug. 21

Signed parental permission form required for any student to participate in a school activity related to the event

Image by Sharada Prasad via Wikimedia Commons

Because of concerns about potential eye damage related to the partial eclipse of the sun on Aug. 21, all Sarasota County schools will move outdoor activities inside between 1:15 and 4:15 p.m., except for those approved for students with signed district parental permission forms, the district announced this week.

While the total phase of this eclipse will not be visible in Sarasota County, a district news release explains, “it will be observed here as a partial solar eclipse between the hours of 1:15 and 4:15 p.m.”

Looking directly at the sun without approved safety glasses is dangerous, the release explains, but a teacher may employ several safe methods to ensure the safety of his or her students while observing the partial eclipse. “No matter which method teachers choose, they must make certain directions are understood and followed,” the release points out. “This means constant monitoring of students, with zero tolerance for disregarding the directions.”

The release stresses, “District permission slips are required for eclipse activities [emphasis in the release].”

“Some classes are planning projects around this event,” the release explains. “Parents will need to sign the required district permission slips before students can participate in [them],” it adds. “Only schools and classes that have pre-planned activities and the necessary approved safety eyewear for viewing the eclipse may host viewing activities,” the release notes.

District leaders also have cautioned all the principals to keep students in covered areas during dismissal time that day, the release says. Sarasota schools let out from 2:15 to 4:15 p.m., depending on the school, the release points out.

Outdoor activities that must be moved indoors include, but are not limited to, aftercare, athletics, recess, physical education, and any other outdoor after-school events, the release says.

The district planned to distribute information to parents via an automated phone call, email, website and other communication methods, the release adds.

Furthermore, the release notes, the district has sent the principals guidelines to follow.

If parents wish to pick up their children before regular dismissal time at their school on Monday, Aug. 21, those dismissals will be allowed/excused. Parents may wish to pick up their child early for the following reasons, for example, the release says:

  • In the event their child’s school/class is not engaged in an eclipse activity and they wish to host an activity at home.
  • They have concerns about traffic issues.
  • They have concerns about their child walking or biking home or riding the bus.

“To quote our friends at Manatee County Schools,” the release adds: “‘We ask parents to use an abundance of caution while driving during the time of the eclipse, and to be especially careful in the parent pickup area at school to avoid distracted drivers, students and pedestrians.’”