Total solar eclipse: Early dismissal, excused absences at Jacksonville area schools

by: Brittney Donovan, Action News Jax Updated:

ECLIPSE COVERAGE: Visit the Action News Jax 2017 Solar Eclipse page

EXPLAINER: What time does the eclipse start; how long does it last; glasses; how to view it

Several Jacksonville area school districts have notified parents of changes to the school day in preparation for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

St. Johns County

The St. Johns County School District is warning parents about dangers students may face during the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

Northeast Florida will see the 90 percent totality at approximately 2:47 pm, as elementary school students are being dismissed.

The district said even during the partial eclipse, there are safety concerns for all students and staff.

Superintendent Tim Forson sent parents an email on Monday asking parents to warn their children not to look directly at the sun, among other safety precautions.

School officials said normal dismissal procedures will be followed. If parents decide to keep their children at home or pick them up from school early, the absences will be excused, school officials said.

Officials said they will treat the absences as any other inclement-weather situation.

School officials are asking parents to communicate with their children the importance of following these safety precautions:
• Do not look directly at the sun during the solar eclipse, as it could be harmful to your vision.
• Do not look at the sun without proper eye protection.
• Do not look at the sun through a telescope or binoculars.
• Do not look at the sun through sunglasses, smoked glass or welder's glasses.
• Do not look at the sun through a camera/smart phone.

The district is warning parents that the only safe method to view the solar eclipse is by using special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers.

Homemade filters and ordinary sunglasses are not safe.

Four manufacturers have certified solar glasses and handheld solar viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

The Department of Health's website has additional information for safe viewing of the eclipse.

For more information about the eclipse on Aug. 21, visit Action News Jax's 2017 Solar Eclipse page.

Follow First Alert Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh for the latest on the eclipse.

Duval County 

District officials said school schedules in Duval County will not be altered for the eclipse.

Absences will be excused, the district said.

Clay County

Officials said schools will operate as scheduled during the solar eclipse but all outdoor activities from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. will be moved inside.

The district is encouraging faculty, staff, students and parents to take appropriate safety measures when viewing the eclipse.

Officials said schools may experience unintentional delays in transportation. 

Nassau County

Nassau County schools will be dismissed early ahead of totality. 

The district said officials decided to make it a half day to avoid hundreds of children being outdoors, on buses, or walking home during the eclipse.

Buses for grades kindergarten through fifth grade will have children home before the beginning of the eclipse, the district said.

Students at secondary schools with planned eclipse-related activities may participate on a voluntary basis or go home early. 

Students who stay for the activities will need to make arrangements for their own transportation home, school officials said.

We apologize for any inconvenience that this schedule change will cause for parents and families. Our main concern is the safety of our students.

Release times for Aug. 21:
Bryceville Elementary 11 a.m.
Callahan Elementary 11:10 a.m.
Callahan Intermediate 10:40 a.m.
Callahan Middle 12:20 p.m.
Emma Love Hardee Elem. 11:10 a.m.
Fernandina Beach High 12:35 p.m.
Fernandina Beach Middle 12:30 p.m.
Hilliard Elementary 11:00 a.m.
Hilliard Middle/Senior 12:30 p.m.
Southside Elementary 10:50 a.m.
West Nassau High 12:15 p.m.
Yulee Elementary 11:15 a.m.
Yulee High 12:30 p.m.
Yulee Middle 12:35 p.m.
Yulee Primary 11:00 a.m.
Wildlight Elementary 11:15 a.m.

For more information, visit the Nassau County School District website.

Putnam County

Putnam schools will be dismissed early on the day of the eclipse.

The district posted the release times and safety information on the district website.

Information posted to the site:

  • Looking directly at the Sun, even when light is partially blocked, is too dangerous to view without the proper protection.
  • Even if you are squinting, the eye will be exposed to dangerous amounts of UV light.
  • The moment you begin looking at the Sun, you start to develop sunburn on your eye(s).
  • The cornea will focus the light and actually scorch the retina.
  • There is no initial pain involved with retinal damage. 
  • By the time the damage is done it is too late.
  • Symptoms, like sunburn, usually appear a few hours after the damage has occurred.  Damage can be short-term or long-term depending on exposure.
  • Are your glasses safe? Make sure your eclipse glasses and/or hand-held solar viewers are ISO and CE certified. Safety tips and certified vendors.

Baker County

Students in Baker County will be have altered dismissal times on Monday.

Baker County Middle School students will be released at 11:30 a.m.

Baker County High School walkers and car riders will be dismissed at 11:20 a.m. and bus riders will be dismissed at 11:50 a.m.

Baker County elementary school students will be dismissed at 4:30 p.m.

The district said any absences or early checkouts on Monday will be considered excused.

Bradford County

Bradford County schools will join other Florida school districts in making Monday, August 21 an early release day for the solar eclipse.

Please note the following dismissal times:

-All elementary schools will dismiss at 11:30 a.m.

-Bradford Middle School, Bradford-Union Technical Center and Bradford High School will dismiss at 12:30 p.m.

Union County

Due to concerns of visual impairment associated with the solar eclipse occurring on Monday, August 21, 2017, the Union County School District will be following an EARLY RELEASE schedule on that day.

According to numerous sources, the actual eclipse is predicted to occur about the time that students would normally release.

Unless otherwise notified, there will be no after-school clubs, classes, practices, or games following the early release schedule. All students will be served lunch prior to departing. 

Lake Butler Elementary School
Buses will load at 11:00 a.m.
Pre-K & Kdg. pick up will begin at 10:45 a.m.

Lake Butler Middle School & Union County High School
Buses will load at 11:20 a.m.

Since all faculty & staff will be dismissed as well, parents/guardians are urged to make all necessary arrangements to have your child picked up promptly from school immediately following the bus dismissals.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s school office:
LBES - 496-3047, LBMS - 496-3046, UCHS - 496-3040,

Charlton County

The Charlton County School System will be on an early release schedule for students and staff on Monday, August 21, 2017.

After much deliberation and feedback, the district felt it best to shorten the school day.

Several factors influenced the district's decision:

-Overall safety for students, staff and stakeholders.
-Eye safety concerns for staff and students including the difficulty to find and purchase approved eyewear for all students to view the solar eclipse in a safe manner.
-Parents, students, and faculty will be able to experience the solar eclipse with their families, friends, and groups since this phenomenon happens so rarely during a lifetime.

The solar eclipse will be a wonderful learning opportunity for parents, students and the entire community. The school system will provide safety information and suggested learning activities associated with the solar eclipse on the system website and will be integrating the phenomenon into instructional activities.

Extra-Curricular Activities: All extra-curricular activities scheduled for this date will proceed after 3:30 p.m.

All schools will release beginning at 12:00 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be provided to all students.

Camden County 

Schools will dismiss students at the regularly scheduled times on Aug. 21, school officials said.

The district posted safety guidelines on its website and said that any students who miss school Monday will be given the opportunity to make up missed class work.

Ware County

Ware County Schools will dismiss early due to the inherent dangers associated with viewing the Total Solar Eclipse with the naked eye, Superintendent Jim LeBrun said. Although there are some visual aids available for purchase, many physicians do NOT recommend looking directly into the eclipse, as there are no guarantees that viewing devices will protect eyesight.

It would be extremely difficult to supervise and ensure that students and staff were wearing the protective eye wear properly. Our goals remain 1) to maintain the safety and security of students, staff and public, and 2) to expand the knowledge base our students.

August 21st Schedule for Dismissal:

Daffodil Pre-K: 10:30 a.m.

Elementary/WCLC: 11:00 a.m.

Middle Schools: 11:45 a.m.

High School: 12:15 p.m.

Students will be served breakfast and a brown bag lunch on August 21. All students and drivers should be home no later than 2:00 p.m. The peak of the eclipse is anticipated to occur at 2:44 p.m. Staff members will be dismissed following the last student leaving school.

Afternoon practices such as band, volleyball, softball, football, etc. at ALL schools MUST meet inside until 3:20 p.m., after which they will be allowed to proceed with regular activities.

Glynn County

In response to the August 21 solar eclipse that will impact the southeastern United States on its track across the country, Glynn County Schools will delay release of elementary, middle and high school students by 45 minutes on that day. Following are normal release times and adjusted release times for August 21:

Normal Release, August 21 Release
Elementary Schools 2:30 p.m., 3:15 p.m.
High Schools 3:30 p.m., 4:15 p.m.
Middle Schools 3:45 p.m., 4:30 p.m.
Jackson Learning Center 2:45 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
Coastal Academy 3:00 p.m., 3:45 p.m.
FACES/Leaps and Bounds 2:00 p.m., Noon

Although Glynn County will not experience a total eclipse, the event will be significant and the darkest part of the eclipse will occur during dismissal of elementary school students.  As are most districts across the state, the Glynn County School System is adjusting the schedule on August 21 to help ensure the safety of all students – walkers/bicyclers, bus riders and those who utilize a personal vehicle. The delayed release will provide greater opportunities for oversight of students during the peak of the solar event.

For many, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Leading up to August 21 and on that day, schools will use the event, which will impact the United States from coast to coast, as a learning opportunity. Students and parents will receive information and guidance regarding safety precautions to take during the eclipse. Resources are also available online through the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) and other organizations.

Any student who uses the eclipse as a learning activity with family and is absent on August 21, 2017 will receive School Sponsored Activity (SSA) credit for the absence provided the student submits a one-page written report or presentation to the school's administrative staff no later than Monday, August 28, 2017.  Notes submitted by parents for other absences must meet established guidelines to be deemed an excused absence.

Additional information will be forthcoming regarding schedule adjustments for extracurricular activities on August 21.

Pierce County

Pierce County said it will use this teachable moment to increase the science literacy of students. 

Pierce County School District will provide a personal pair of solar eclipse viewing glasses to all students and staff. These eclipse glasses are NASA and International Organization for Standardization tested, approved and certified.

Since student safety is priority, the district said it will delay dismissal on Monday, August 21 to ensure that neither students nor employees are on the roadways during the time of the eclipse. 

The height of the eclipse is estimated to be 3-4 minutes during the time of regular elementary school dismissal. Because of this, Pierce County Schools is adjusting dismissal times to the following:

School, Bus Rider Dismissal, Car Rider Dismissal
Blackshear Elementary School, 2:55 p.m., 2:55 p.m.
Midway Elementary School, 2:55 p.m., 3:00 p.m.
Patterson Elementary School, 2:55 p.m., 3:00 p.m.
Pierce County Middle School, 3:45 p.m., 3:45 p.m.
Pierce County High School, 3:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m.

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Action News Jax is working to learn more about dismissal procedures for other school districts in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. Follow Action News Jax on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.

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