Education

Solar eclipse happens on the first day of school. Here’s what your kids will see, or not.

Ellie Nydick of New York City, Anne and Mike Barrett of Hazlet, New Jersey and Anthony Williams of Miami all watch the solar eclipse at Key Biscayne on February 26, 1998.
Ellie Nydick of New York City, Anne and Mike Barrett of Hazlet, New Jersey and Anthony Williams of Miami all watch the solar eclipse at Key Biscayne on February 26, 1998. Miami Herald File

For some kids, the end of summer vacation already feels like the end of the world. This year, there’s additional confirmation: On the first day of school, the sun will temporarily go dark.

At least, that’s what it will look like on Aug. 21 for those in the path of the total solar eclipse, which stretches from Salem, Ore., to Charleston, S.C. Observers in Miami will see only a partial eclipse as the moon passes between the earth and the sun.

Miami-Dade public schools are allowing students on a school-by-school basis to go outside and view the eclipse with their teachers — if they have the proper protective sunglasses and if it makes sense as part of the curriculum, said Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. Classes will be dismissed at the regular time and all outdoor activities will be moved inside as a precautionary measure.

“We’re going to strike a balance between safeguards and precautions to protect our kids and the opportunity to create educational opportunities around this spectacular event,” Carvalho said.

The school district is also notifying parents of the dangers of looking directly at the sun during the eclipse, which will occur between approximately 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., at a time when some students are walking home from school. Miami-Dade is also posting information online about proper protective sunglasses and about how students can watch the eclipse online, which school officials say is the safest way to observe the cosmic event.

On August 21, the moon will paint a swath of North America in darkness. The Great American Eclipse.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Miami will let its students go home early on Aug. 21. Students at all Catholic elementary and high schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties will be dismissed at 11:30 a.m. A lucky few in the Astronomy Club at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School will watch the eclipse on three different telescopes from the school’s Fr. Benito Vieñes, SJ Observatory.

In Broward County, the school district is discouraging schools from letting students watch the event outside, said spokeswoman Nadine Drew. Schools are also moving outdoor activities inside during the eclipse and sending information about eye safety to parents.

And in Palm Beach County, the school district reversed course after initially banning students from watching the eclipse outdoors, according to the Palm Beach Post. Palm Beach schools are now going to allow students with protective sunglasses to observe the eclipse with their principal’s approval.

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