Space enthusiasts will be watching the sky on Monday to see the moon slip between the sun and the Earth. For those in its path across the U.S., the full solar eclipse could be stunning: For at least few minutes, a solar eclipse causes the appearance of darkness in the middle of the day. The sun, partially obscured except for its outer ring, will appear to be surrounded by a grand halo of light.
Sound pretty spectacular, right? But Scottsdale school administrators aren't taking any chances. The school district will keep students indoors until the celestial event is over.
On Tuesday, the Scottsdale Unified School District said in a news release that on Monday, August 21, students will be kept indoors from the hours of 9 a.m. to noon.
“That means no outdoor lunch, recess, or PE,” the release stated.
No recess is definitely a bummer, never mind missing a once-in-a-decade solar event. The school district said the eclipse “raises concerns about safety,” and quoted a Planetary Society scientist, Bruce Betts, as saying that people should never look directly at the sun. Watching a solar eclipse without protective eyewear can cause eye damage.
Arizona is not in the so-called "path of totality," where the sun will completely block out the sun for a couple minutes, but Scottsdale seems to be operating on an abundance of caution.
Erin Helm, public information officer for the school district, told Phoenix New Times in an email, "When it comes to matters like this, SUSD will always err on the side of safety. To my understanding, every school district is handling the eclipse differently, and some have not yet decided what they will do."
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Other schools across the country have reportedly rearranged their schedules or will close their doors on Monday to avoid having students outside during the eclipse.
Here's the good news: Parents who keep their kids home on the day of the eclipse will not have the absence count against the student, the school said.
If students are disappointed, you can't blame them — the next full solar eclipse to touch the U.S. will be in 2024.
Nevertheless, the school said that there will be opportunities on Monday for students to learn about the solar eclipse, just from “the safety of the classroom.”