Students ready for the eclipse

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Students at one Region 8 school are ready for Monday's eclipse.

Students at the International Studies Magnet school have been learning about the eclipse all week.

Jonesboro Public School's STEM specialist Carol Neves said she's been researching and informing everyone about what will happen and what needs to be done in the interest of safety.

"The solar eclipse is happening on Monday, the 21st of August," Neves said. "It's going to start around 11:50 in our area. We'll start seeing things on the sun around then. Then around 1:20 it'll be at its full, maximum coverage. By 2:48 the moon will have moved far enough away from the sun that we won't see any eclipse anymore."

Neves said the first priority was securing the proper eyewear.

"As far as getting ready for the eclipse," Neves said. "We've purchased glasses for every child and staff member in the district. We've sent home permission slips to make sure every parent is aware this is happening and that the children have permission to go outside and view the eclipse. If they don't have a permission slip signed, they don't get to go out."

Neves said they wanted both teachers and parents to make the decision on a students participation.

"Any teacher can also choose not to go out with their children," Neves said. "Or any parent can choose not to have their child go out. Any children that don't go out will get to see it live stream on the t.v. or computer. So, no one will have to miss it. They'll just not be outside if their parents or teachers are concerned."

Neves said this event isn't more dangerous than any other day.

People are just more aware of what can happen if you stare at the sun without proper protection.

"It's actually not any more dangerous," Neves said. "To go outside during an eclipse than any other time. As long as the sun's out, if you stare at the sun you're going to hurt your eyes. So, during an eclipse, we have a heightened awareness that something is happening. So, people are drawn to stare at the sun. We know it's not safe to stare at the sun so we have special glasses that we've ordered. They are the certified glasses. They are on the list for the AAS, which is the American Astrological Society and then NASA has also approved these glasses. It's not any more dangerous. It's just making sure since we are looking at the sun we're protecting our eyes. And this is the only way to protect your eyes. Sunglasses won't work."

Staring at the sun without protection can cause blind spots.

"If you look at the sun unprotected you'll burn your retinas," Neves said. "It's called Solar Retinopathy. And that can happen if you're on the beach laying out and you stare at the sun, you're going to damage your eyes."

Neves said if you've got proper glasses, you won't see anything when you look through them until the eclipse happens.

"If you put on these solar eclipse glasses inside," Neves said. "You won't see anything. It's total black. But when you look at the sun you'll see a small ball. And you can tell it's the sun. And when the moon is covering it, it'll just be a sliver. So, you can't see anything and that's how these glasses protect. They literally block out anything other than that one spot."

Neves said no one should drive or walk with these glasses on.

"Once you put them on," Neves said. "You'll see you can't see anything."

Neves said the children will get the glasses right before they use them.

"When we take the children out," Neves said. "They'll receive these glasses as they go out the door. And they'll be told not to walk with them on. They'll sit down, look at the ground and put the glasses on and then look up. They'll only be outside a couple of minutes because it's not going to take that long. They'll see what they need to see and then they'll leave."

Neves said this is a wonderful moment for students to actually see and not just read about the event.

"This is a teachable moment," Neves said. "We at Jonesboro Public schools know this is a safety concern. But we can't skip this opportunity to teach kids about our closest star. This is something called syzygy when three celestial bodies are in line together. It's so exciting that the kids are going to get to see this and learn about it. Our kids have been learning about this since Monday."

The glasses were made possible through a donation from KFC/Taco Bell.

Around 5,000 students in the Jonesboro Public School system will be watching the eclipse on Monday.

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