Knox County Schools cancels class for total solar eclipse

In this photo provided by Tourism Queensland, the moment of a total solar eclipse is observed at Cape Tribulation in Queensland state, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Starting just after dawn, the eclipse cast its 150-kilometer (95-mile) shadow in Australia's Northern Territory, crossed the northeast tip of the country and was swooping east across the South Pacific, where no islands are in its direct path. (AP Photo/Tourism Queensland)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – For the first time in more than 38 years, the moon on August 21, 2017 will block the view of the sun from the Earth in the United States.

Areas in East Tennessee are one of the best places to watch the eclipse and Knox County Schools is hoping to give students time to views the eclipse by cancelling school. Knox County Schools said they received permission from the Tennessee Commissioner of Education to close school on August 21 for “inclement weather.”

“It’s better to be cautious on this one. Snow days are hard too… there are times when you think a bunch of snow is coming but a little bit does. It’s hard to predict  those kinds of things. This one, we know is going to happen.” said Jon Rysewyk, chief academic officer for Knox County Schools.

Rysewyk says safety was the biggest factor when deciding whether or not to cancel school for the eclipse.

More: Map tells you exactly when, how long you’ll see total solar eclipse of 2017

Knox County Schools said after school activities after 4:00 p.m. such as athletic practices, games and other special events, will proceed as originally scheduled.

Though school will not be in session, Knox County Schools said they are embracing this learning opportunity and science phenomenon with great excitement in the classroom. They said a family science information packet will be sent to all families, and teachers will have solar eclipse lesson plans available to them for use in the week prior to the event. Students will also receive solar viewing glasses featuring designs created by two Knox County students.

One parent, and seventh grade science teacher, says she already has eclipse plans, she’ll be taking her family to watch from canoes.

“I’m really excited for my students – my own children – to tell me about it, to teach me about it. Because I know they’re going to be learning this in school. So, this gives them the opportunity for students to teach the parents.” said August Askins.

Her daughters are in kindergarten and fifth grade. She says by being able to not worry about missing school, they’ll be able to experience a piece of history.

“I’ve spoke with my fifth grader and she understands that I’m probably not going to get to see an eclipse in totality in my lifetime.” said Askins.

(Knox County Schools)

Additionally, Knox County Schools has partnered with MUSE Knoxville to provide supplemental training for teachers.

The Muse Knoxville is providing teacher-in-training for Knox County science teachers. As well as providing public information for parents, including a two-sided paper with information about what an eclipse really is.

“We’re really excited to take this opportunity and educate the public about safe viewing practices – that’s our number one goal.” said Ellie Kittrell, Executive Director for MUSE Knoxville.

More: Top 10 spots in East Tennessee to view the total solar eclipse

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