Cullman city and county school boards issue statements on next week’s eclipse


This image shows the Aug. 1, 2008, solar eclipse at the point of totality, when the moon completely blocks out the body of the sun, revealing the normally hidden, halo-like corona. / NASA / Image Credit: The  Exploratorium

Updated 8-17-17 at 1:15 p.m.

CULLMAN COUNTY – Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Patterson and Cullman County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette issued policy statements this week on next Monday’s solar eclipse.

City Schools

According to Patterson, parents who want to have their children out of school to see the eclipse may do so, as long as they send a note to the school by this Friday.  This absence will not count toward the five allowed parent notes.

Students at any city school that day will not go outside to view the eclipse.  Instead, classrooms with televisions will show NASA’s live broadcast of the event.

County Schools

Barnette stated that students from kindergarten through second grade will remain inside their buildings during the eclipse.  For older elementary, and for middle and high school students, outdoor viewing will be at each principal’s discretion.  Principals who allow students to go outside to view the event directly will be responsible to make sure that each student doing so has approved eye protection.

Monday will be an excused absence for county school students who will be going with family to view the eclipse. Parents should notify school administration by Friday.

Things you need to know

In north Alabama, the eclipse will begin at noon, reach maximum coverage (95 percent) at around 1:30 p.m., and will conclude just before 3 p.m. The eclipse will, in our area, at no point be total. Daylight will be dimmed, and it will be far more like dawn and dusk than nighttime.  Some amount of direct sunlight will always be visible over Cullman County, so eye protection will be needed at all times when viewing the eclipse directly.  The moon's shadow will be moving from northwest to southeast at a high rate of speed, so by the time schools prepare to dismiss students at the end of the school day, Cullman County will be back in broad daylight.  A sliver of moon shadow should still be visible at dismissal, but the event will be largely concluded. According to NASA, "The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EDT. From there the lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 EDT."

Many imported viewing shades are not approved for viewing the sun, and can actually harm the eyes.  “Eclipser” wearable sun shades by American Paper Optics are highly recommended by numerous eclipse authorities, and have been available at Wal-Mart and Lowe’s. You can also find them at Shades can also be purchased at the Mary Carter Store in downtown Cullman.

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