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Send Kids Outdoors for Solar Eclipse

Don't prevent youths from witnessing an eclipse of the sun on April 8, 2024. School officials who insist all kids should be inside to avoid the alleged dangers of viewing a solar eclipse should first read Ray Bradbury's All Summer in a Day. If you obstruct this teachable moment, you are like the bully William, denying Margot who longingly writes, "I think the sun is a flower, That blooms for just one hour."

Administrators have obligations to safeguard their charges. On April 8 they may have additional challenges as the school day ends. However, corralling them inside and pulling down the shades is neither necessary nor kind. Yet for the 2017 solar eclipse I received email from a dismayed teacher who claimed that was indeed her school's practice, and their were other reports of similar action. It was just easier to hide than to teach about and to witness the solar spectacle.

[ADDED 2024 FEB 14: For school districts and organizations that are reluctant to allow students to view with proper eye equipment, see this video from Elgin School District: ]

There are many ways to interface with an eclipse, whether partial or solar, using safe viewing techniques. Heck, you can use your fingers to project a partial eclipse. Or bring a colander with you. Or stand under a leafy tree and look at the ground if you must. But get outside. See the colors change; feel the temperature change; hear the birds change; sense the emotional change.

While the short film All Summer in a Day depicts the meanness of denying a solar spectacle, it is misleading in suggesting the group of kids can stare collectively at the sun. While that may be creator Kody Cunningham's artistic effort at projecting awe, and school administrators may seize on the cinematic misdirection as inevitable child behavior, the human eye's natural response does not permit such extended staring at the sun. Notice how the shadows on the ground and the sunlight on their backs confirm the kids are not facing the sun in the film.

While there are legitimate reasons one may remain indoors during an eclipse, such as to honor an indigenous practice, keeping kids inside for student management ease is not one of them. Please, don't be the bully of Ray Bradbury's short story.


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