Utah school districts prepare for solar eclipse on first day

Friday , August 11, 2017 - 9:17 AM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — With some Utah students going back to school on the same day as the once-in-a-generation solar eclipse, one school district has spent about $30,000 on protective eyewear so its 68,000 students can safely watch what officials there consider a great learning opportunity.

Granite School District schools in Salt Lake County will be following an assembly schedule on Aug. 21 to allow the students and staff to witness the solar event while minimizing disruption, the Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/2wOVVUn ).

The Granite School District asked for parents’ input on the start date for the 2017-2018 academic year. Many voted for the Aug. 21 date despite the solar event, spokesman Ben Horsley said. The Granite School District expects several students will miss school on the first day, and they will mark it as an excused absence, Horsley said.

“We’ll have glasses available for every student and staff so we can take advantage of this tremendous educational opportunity,” he said Tuesday.

Salt Lake City School District and Murray School District campuses will also resume class on the same day, but officials have left it up to school administrators to decide whether they will organize eclipse viewing activities. Some schools have said they will keep students indoors during the eclipse as a safety measure, while others are adding monitored viewing activities into their schedules for the first day of school, said spokeswoman D Wright for Murray schools and spokeswoman Yandary Zavala Chatwin for Salt Lake City schools.

The Salt Lake City schools have been told to supervise children and take safety precautions while they enjoy the natural phenomenon, Zavala Chatwin said.

“It’s a good thing to have this coincide with the first day of school,” she said. “We think it will create memorable experience for the students in the district.”

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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