Monday, August 21, the first day of our new school year, also happens to be the same day as a once-in-a-generation cosmic event: a solar eclipse. We are fortunate to have been provided the opportunity to participate safely in viewing the eclipse and benefitting from the learning experience thanks to the generosity of the Goochland Education Foundation (GEF).
The GEF has provided all of Goochland County Public Schools students and staff with first-party vendor, ISO-compliant solar viewing glasses. Students will be using The Eclipser glasses manufactured by American Paper Optics, LLC (www.eclipseglasses.com). Our schools have made plans for students and staff to have the opportunity to view the solar eclipse Monday afternoon. Plans include instruction on proper use of the glasses, as well as supervision throughout the event.
As you would expect with such a rare and far reaching event, Monday’s solar eclipse has been widely covered by media outlets for the past several weeks. In fact, our own school division has received a great deal of positive attention locally for incorporating the eclipse into our first day experience.
The fact that the event is taking place on our first day back has also created some communication challenges. While we have worked hard to let our families know about the GEF’s generosity as it relates to Monday’s events, we have decided to make participation in viewing the eclipse exclusively an opt-in endeavor for all families. This approach is the only way we can ensure that we are hearing directly from our students’ parents about permission to participate in viewing Monday’s eclipse. Students who do not have permission to participate will be provided an alternative activity.
Our eclipse viewing plans include direct instruction about proper use of the glasses prior to the event (including this video that you may want to view with your child over the weekend), a brief viewing of the eclipse sometime between 2:30-3:00PM (approximately 30 seconds; this is what’s recommended by professionals in the eyecare profession), followed by instructional connections throughout the school year.
If you would like for your child to participate in viewing Monday’s solar eclipse using the ISO-compliant glasses provided by the Goochland Education Foundation, you must provide your permission electronically here or write a note providing your consent and send it to school with your child Monday morning. If you have more than one child in the school division, you need to complete the permission process for each one. Our elementary school parents may have already completed a permission form for this; if you have completed it and have returned it to your child’s school, no further action is needed. As you know, forms can get misplaced between home and school, so we encourage all of our families to use the electronic permission option if possible. (The electronic permission option closes at 7:00AM Monday morning.)
Finally, please know that students will be able to keep the viewing glasses at the end of the school day on Monday. Our understanding is that the eclipse spans several hours so students may have the opportunity to participate in an additional viewing using the glasses at home as well.
We couldn’t be more excited about the year ahead, and we’re grateful to the GEF for their continued support of our entire school community!