Here are some tips for watching Tennessee’s solar eclipse.
Metro Nashville Public Schools students will have to go to school during August’s great solar eclipse after all.
Nashville schools initially gave Aug. 21 off to students so families could experience the once-in-a-lifetime event. But the district reversed course at the request of Mayor Megan Barry.
“(We) were asked by the Mayor to reconsider that decision as she felt strongly that young students could encounter safety issues if they were left home without supervision on that day,” a statement from the district said on Monday.
► Related: Complete coverage of the 2017 eclipse
Meanwhile, other districts throughout Middle Tennessee and statewide have been split in how to handle the event, with some closing and others remaining open. Nashville, and the region, is a prime location to see the event being called the “Great American Eclipse.”
Mayor made the request to Nashville schools’ board chair
The Nashville Board of Education voted on the change last week to modify the schedule.
Nashville schools board Chair Anna Shepherd said Barry specifically reached out to her about the calendar. The board doesn’t set the calendar, but is tasked with approving the recommendation from a district calendar committee.
Shepherd said she agreed with the reasons behind Barry’s request.
“The fact of the matter is that we will have students home alone and, especially, during the critical time of the eclipse,” Shepherd said. “We want to ensure the safety of all students in our district.”
School board also cited safety concerns
During the board’s discussion on the issue last week, safety concerns were the main topic, including protecting students’ vision during the eclipse.
“The district had already purchased safety glasses for students to take home so they could safely view the eclipse from home,” the statement reads. “The administration has been working through logistics associated with the calendar change — including obtaining safety glasses for school personnel — and will communicate further details with families as we get closer to the start of school.”
Teachers were already required to attend work for the day, and the district is checking with the state to see if it can provide students with excused absences, according to Jana Carlisle, Metro Schools chief of staff.
Hopkinsville, Kentucky, a city of about 32,000 people will have one of the longest durations of the solar eclipse on August 21. Tens of thousands of people are expected to watch the eclipse from this rural area. (June 28)
Some districts open, other closed for the event
Other Middle Tennessee districts have varied in their decision for school that day.
Sumner, Robertson and Clarksville-Montgomery county school districts are closed.
Wilson County Schools will hold classes the day of the total solar eclipse, because officials there said it is a potential learning opportunity and they want to accommodate working parents. Rutherford and Williamson schools will also be open.
Elsewhere, Knox County Schools will be closed.
Metro Schools had planned to use the eclipse day as a professional development day for teachers, but the district shifted the plan to not hold school on Sept. 1 — a Friday.
Andy Humbles and Melanie Balakit contributed to this report.
Reach Jason Gonzales at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ByJasonGonzales.
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