Area schools make plans and schedule changes for Monday’s solar eclipse

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FRANKLIN, Ind - Franklin Community Schools announced they will shift their day’s schedule one hour later this Monday in an effort to keep curious youngsters safe during the upcoming solar eclipse.

“The decision to err on the side of safety was very easy,” said FCS Superintendent Dr. David Clendening.

Like most parents, Clendening knows that if you tell a seven or eight year-old-child not look right at the sun, they will probably do the exact opposite.

“I think we all know little kids,” Clendening said. “You say don’t touch that stove, it’s hot. What do they do? They touch the stove and find out it’s hot.”

Monday’s eclipse is expected to be visible from central Indiana between 12:57 p.m. and ending at 3:48 p.m. Monday.  In central Indiana, about 90-percent of the sun will be covered by the moon as it passes in front of it.

Experts say the light coming from the sun will be no more dangerous than any other day, but people are more likely to look up at it to see what the eclipse looks like.

“It’s like a really bad sunburn, if it’s bad enough it can cause permanent skin damage,” said Optometrist, Nick Feipel.  “The retina can be damaged by getting too much UV light.”

Unlike most area school districts, Franklin releases their elementary students earlier than older students, around 2:40 p.m.  On that time frame, the youngest children in the district would be walking outside for the bus ride home at the peak of the eclipse event.

“And so we didn’t think it was prudent to get elementary kids out, grads K through 4, at the exact same time and then tell them ‘Hey don’t look up.,” Clendening said.

Franklin school officials say shifting Monday’s schedule back one hour will mean the eclipse will be mostly over when the children walk out to the buses, reducing the likelihood that they will look up at the sun and do permanent damage to their eyes.

The move also means older students will still be in class through the duration of the eclipse. Franklin Schools, like many districts, have organized viewing events for the eclipse as long as students have the proper signed forms and approved safety glasses.

Earlier in the day, Franklin Schools plan to keep students indoors for recess or P.E. classes during the time of the eclipse.

“Anything that’s happening before noon in our district, they can still go outside,” Clendending said. “After from noon on, we’re going to stay inside for recess.”

Many other central Indiana school districts have safety plans and viewing events planned for Monday. And most school districts plan to keep children indoors for afternoon recess or P.E. classes.

Eastern Hancock Schools will also shift their schedule back one hour on Monday.  Hamilton Southeastern Schools will not have their regular Monday early dismissal. Indianapolis Public schools say if parents want to keep their children home on Monday, it will be considered an excused absence.

Parents are urged to check with their child’s school or daycare facility to find out what plans are in place for Monday.

Clendening said he and others will be taking notes and watching how things go at schools further to the south, where the total eclipse will be visible. Central Indiana will be in the direct path for a total solar eclipse seven years from now.

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