Solar eclipse 2017: How to view sun safely
Forsyth County Schools dismissals delayed

Though local residents may want to avoid buying plants — especially Venus flytraps – and should run in the opposite direction of any calling out “Feeeed me” on Monday, the nation is eagerly anticipating the 2017 solar eclipse, the first total eclipse viewable coast-to-coast from the contiguous United States in 99 years.

While scenes from 1986’s “Little Shop of Horrors” likely won’t play out, NASA, AAA and others have published precautionary viewing tips in recent weeks to prepare citizens for the Aug. 21 event.

For weeks, NASA has advised residents to not look directly into the sun, a warning many have heeded, proven by the difficulty in finding eclipse glasses at local stores.

“The sun’s surface is so bright that if you stare at any portion of it, no matter how small, it produces enough light to damage individual retinal cells,” NASA’s website says. “It takes a few seconds for this to happen, but afterwards, you will see a spot as big as the solar surface you glimpsed when you look away from the sun at some other scenery.

“Depending on how long you gazed at the sun and how badly the retinal cells were damaged, this spot will either fade away in time or remain permanent, [but] you should never assume that you can look away quickly enough to avoid eye damage.”

AAA, too, warns drivers to not look at the sun, but for other reasons – most notably, to cut down on the risk of auto accidents during the eclipse.

Motorists who are on the road when the moon travels in front of the sun should turn their headlights on, even if a vehicle has automatic light sensors, AAA said.

While the eclipse won’t cause complete darkness in Forsyth County and will only last minutes, headlights increase forward vision and makes a vehicle more visible to others.

Drivers should also not operate a vehicle with eclipse glasses on, nor should they try to photograph or video the eclipse while driving, and they should be hyper-aware of pedestrians and other drivers who may be trying to view the eclipse.

In an effort to protect students and cut down on the number of drivers during the eclipse, Forsyth County Schools has delayed school dismissal by 40 minutes, according to Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for FCS.

“Dismissals vary for the schools,” she said. “All elementary students – walkers, bus and car riders – will be delayed, but the delays will only [affect] bus riders for the middle and high schools.

“Middle and high school walkers, [car] riders and drivers will be dismissed based on their normal schedules, but the buses will be delayed.”

At many schools, too, administrators have made special plans for dismissals, absences and eclipse viewing.

“Based on the individual [school] situation, parents have been kept updated as to what’s going to occur on Monday,” Caracciolo said. “Daves Creek [Elementary] started planning a year ago – they’re very excited about this.

“Schools have ordered eclipse glasses, and while we have had schools that had issues with recalled glasses through Amazon, every other school has checked in and verified their glasses, which was also communicated to parents.”

In addition, Caracciolo said FCS gave schools several dismissal options.

“We gave schools three different forms for dismissals,” she said. “They are for [early] checkouts, absences and dismissals, and absences and early checkouts on Monday will be excused.

“Schools had a variety of resources they could use to fit their community needs, and then they could plan on how many glasses to buy."