On August 21, 2017, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) will delay dismissal by one hour to help ensure the safe viewing of the eclipse and a safe dismissal of students. On this day, all of North American will experience an eclipse of the sun. This means that Earth, the sun, and the moon, which all orbit in space in predictable paths, will align. The moon will move between the sun and Earth blocking the light of the sun. Thus, the moon will cast a shadow on Earth.
Here in Gwinnett, we will experience a near total eclipse between 2:35 and 2:40 p.m. that will last approximately 2 minutes. This alignment of the sun, the moon, and Earth will mark the first time this phenomenon has occurred coast-to-coast in our country in nearly 100 years.
As dismissal for Gwinnett County Public Schools high school students occurs shortly after 2 p.m. and the first tier of elementary school students are released at 2:45 p.m. the district felt a one-hour delay in dismissal would allow for better supervision of students during the eclipse.
NASA has issued guidelines for watching the eclipse (some are bulleted below) that advise that children should be carefully supervised when using solar filters to view the eclipse.
Eclipse viewing glasses and handheld solar viewers should meet all the following criteria:
- Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard
- Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product
- Not be used if they are older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses
- Not use homemade filters
“GCPS has made the decision to dismiss one hour later than usual as a safety precaution, explains Dr. Jonathan Patterson, associate superintendent for Curriculum and Instructional Support. “We cannot safely monitor students during dismissal or who are riding on school buses during the eclipse.
Ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. In addition to addressing safety concerns associated with the eclipse, the delay will provide more time for us to make this a special educational event for our students, allowing us to organize safe and engaging viewing experiences for students.”
Here are additional information and links from NASA:
NASA has coordinated with medical and science professionals to provide additional safety information. For details, visit:
More than 6,800 libraries across the U.S. are distributing safety-certified glasses. Many are working with scientists to hold viewing events and activities before and during the eclipse. For a listing of participating libraries, visit:
NASA Television is offering a special live program, “Eclipse Across America: Through the Eyes of NASA” with real-time coverage of the event from coast to coast. The nearly four-hour program will include unprecedented images of the Aug. 21 eclipse from numerous spacecraft — including the International Space Station – high-altitude aircraft and balloons, and ground observations. Each will offer a unique vantage point for the eclipse. Additionally, the broadcast will include live coverage of activities in parks, libraries, stadiums, festivals and museums across the nation, and on social media. To watch the Aug. 21 NASA TV eclipse broadcast online and access interactive web content and views of the eclipse from these assets, visit: