ROGERSVILLE — You’re always told don’t look directly into a solar eclipse, unless you’ve got a pair of NASA-approved glasses like the students at Rogersville City School will be using the afternoon of Aug. 21.
The glasses, which are manufactured by American Paper Optics, look like they’re made for watching 3-D movies.
But instead of creating the illusion that dangerous things are coming at you, these glasses actually filter out dangerous things that are coming at you — specifically ultraviolet rays from the sun.
On Tuesday, the independent K-8 RCS joined the list of schools that will remain in session during the solar eclipse that will take place the afternoon of Aug. 21.
Hawkins County Schools will dismiss at 11 a.m.
RCS Director Rebecca Isaacs told the Board of Education Tuesday that the school’s leadership team recommended staying open for the event after examining the best learning scenario and best safety scenario for students.
The BOE approved that recommendation unanimously.
The school purchased safety glasses for every student and school staff member.
“We’re inviting families to come in and view the eclipse with their students if that is their choice,” Isaacs said. “They will have to provide their own glasses, but we would love to have them come view the eclipse with their children. This is a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity. With the emphasis we place on technology and STEM, we felt we would be remiss if we didn’t give our children this opportunity.”
Isaacs added, “We’re confident that we can do this safely. We’ve been through every possible scenario. So it’s going to be business as usual, except a once-in-a-lifetime eclipse, which is a phenomenal science learning experience.”
Parents will have to sign a release for their children to view the eclipse, as was recommended by Tennessee Board of Education counsel.
RCS STEM teacher and technology trainer Jennifer Ewing has prepared classroom learning plans for the eclipse and was providing training to teachers Thursday in preparation for the big event.
“We’ll be outside (during the eclipse), and we’ll have designated areas for each grade level,” Ewing told the Times-News Tuesday. “The maximum coverage will be at 2:35 p.m., and then we dismiss at 2:55 p.m., so it will still be going on (when school lets out), but the most dramatic part will be pretty much over by then.”
Ewing noted that the protective glasses filter out harmful UV radiation and that no one should look into the eclipse without approved safety glasses.
“Normally if you look at the sun, your instinct protects you from looking directly at it,” she noted. “During an eclipse, the sun will be 97.55 percent obscured, so it’s going to look almost like a total eclipse. But, even though you can’t see the sunlight, the radiation can still damage your eye.”
In other business Tuesday the BOE:
— Agreed to give school employees a 1 percent bonus in September, in addition to the 3 percent raise which was approved in the 2017-18 budget. Isaacs said more is being asked of employees, and she had noted during the budget process if the funds were available she would be asking for the bonus.
RCS received an additional $58,040 from the state. The cost of the one-time 1 percent bonus for all employees is $43,352.
— Heard a report from Isaacs that RCS enrollment was 638 as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, which is about 10 lower then the end of the last school year. Isaacs said she believes that number will increase in the coming weeks.
— Honored several members of the 2016-17 track team which participated in the state tournament in May including: Katie Biggs who was state champion in the disc and shot; Amelia Metz, who placed eighth in disc; Kaylan Henard, who was third in high jump and sixth in 100 meter dash; Orianna Williams, Macy McDavid, Lana Clevinger and Kaylan Henard who were seventh in the 4x100 dash; Jalen Horner, who was second in shot; Hayzen Hayes, who was sixth in long jump, 13th in 100 meter dash, and 11th in 200 meter dash; Jacob Kenner, who was sixth in high jump, 10th in 100 meter dash, and 11th in 400 meter; Jason Sattler, who was fourth in 400 meter dash and 14th in 100 meter dash; Lydia Alvis, who was 12th in 100 meter dash; and Henry Brooks, who was 11th in 1600 meter run and 13th in 800 meter run.