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A 100-year sight: Forsyth County Schools will delay dismissal to view solar eclipse

The moon will block out 98.8 percent of the sun in Cumming on Aug. 21, and Forsyth County Schools officials and teachers are planning for the 100-year solar eclipse in more than one way.

While the best viewing spots in the state will be in the northeast Georgia mountains for what is being called the Great American Eclipse, Forsyth County is not far from the path of totality — the 60-mile-wide arc From Oregon to South Carolina that will experience a total eclipse of the sun — and the county’s public schools will delay dismissal by 40 minutes.

Aug. 21 Forsyth County Schools release times

  • ES I: 3 p.m. (Big Creek, Brandywine, Brookwood, Chattahoochee, Chestatee, Coal Mountain, Cumming, Haw Creek, Kelly Mill, Matt, Settles Bridge, Sharon, Shiloh Point, Vickery Creek)
  • ES II: 3:40 p.m. (Daves Creek, Johns Creek, Mashburn, Midway, Sawnee, Silver City, Whitlow)
  • MS: 4:55 p.m.
  • HS: 4:20 p.m.

How to view the Great American Eclipse safely

Looking directly at the sun is never safe, and that holds true during a solar eclipse. If the eclipse is even slightly partial, looking directly at it can burn the retinas and cause blindness.

  • Use “eclipse glasses”
  • Wear No. 14 welder’s glasses
  • Project the image of the eclipse onto a white surface with a projecting telescope or one side of binoculars
  • DO NOT use regular sunglasses
  • DO NOT look at it through a camera, telescope or other optical device while using eclipse glasses

(Source: NASA)

“The peak time to experience the solar eclipse falls during our regularly scheduled elementary school afternoon transportation times,” said Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for the district. “Since safety is our first priority, this delayed dismissal will ensure that neither students nor employees are on the roadways during the time of the eclipse.”

Schools will follow normally scheduled start times.

This is the first total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States from coast to coast in nearly a century.

The center-line path of totality – when the moon completely blocks the sun, the earth goes dark and the sun’s corona shimmers in the blackened sky – will stretch from Salem, Oregon, at 10:15 a.m. local time to Charleston, South Carolina, about an hour and a half later and will last up to 2 minutes and 41.6 seconds.

“Each school is developing their own plan” on how they will incorporate the event into their curriculum, Caracciolo said. Individual schools will share that information with students and parents in upcoming weeks.

Parents can check out their children earlier than the delayed dismissal if they want. School-based staff that have to extend their hours due to the 40-minute delay will have their Oct. 20 professional development day – a student holiday – shortened by 40 minutes.

Caracciolo said the district had three options: to make the day an online learning day, to release early or to delay dismissal.

“This is a 100-year event,” she said. “It’s a great learning experience for them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.