East Tennessee schools make plans for solar eclipse

Knox, Alcoa, Sevier, Monroe, Hamblen, and Grainger Counties have decided to close for the day

UPDATE: Since the publication of this story, Blount, Loudon and Maryville City Schools have decided to close for the eclipse. Click here for more details.

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – East Tennessee schools are gearing up for the solar eclipse. Many school systems, including Knox County, Sevier County and Alcoa City Schools, have decided to give students the day off to observe the rare event.

Other schools, like those in Loudon and Blount counties, made the call to stay open.

“A lot of the local neighboring school systems decided to close for safety reasons,” Jared Smith, Porter Elementary School principal, said. “But Blount County Schools really saw it as a learning opportunity to take a lot of the curriculum our kids are learning every day and really just see it in action, see what it looks like.”

Previous story: Knox County Schools cancels class for total solar eclipse

“Each class has their own individual projects they’re going to be working on,” Anderson said. “In third grade, we’re actually starting the year off learning about the solar system. In the past we started our talking about the planet life cycle so it fits right into the curriculum. The solar eclipse couldn’t have happened at a better time. It’s an opportunity for the kids to get excited and to see science in action.”

Union County Schools are opting to make Aug. 21 a half day. Still, the school system, and a number of others, are purchasing protective glasses to keep students’ eyes safe while viewing the eclipse.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for students,” Union County Director of Schools Jimmy Carter said. “I want our students to experience that once in a lifetime opportunity. We’re purchasing glasses for every student in our school system, every staff member, so that everybody can be a part of this. We want to teach students the significance of it and I want students to observe this because this won’t happen again in their lifetime.”

While Blount County Schools will carry on with classes, they will not be missing the must-see event. Administrators plan to hold a special viewing party outside, and even invited families, so that everyone can witness history, together.

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

“We’re going to do it huge,” Smith said. “We’re all going to go outside. A lot of our teachers have different activities and different things they’re doing in the classroom but when it all comes down to it we’re going to all go outside and watch this thing happen.”

Anderson, Loudon, and Blount counties have opted to stay open for Aug. 21, as has Oak Ridge City Schools. Knox, Monroe, Jefferson, Hamblen and Grainger counties and Alcoa City Schools have decided to close for the day.

  • Alcoa City Schools: Closed
  • Anderson County: Opted to stay open
  • Blount County: Closed
  • Campbell County: Hasn’t made a decision
  • Grainger County: Closed
  • Hamblen County: Closed
  • Jefferson County: Closed
  • Knox County: Closed
  • Loudon County: Closed
  • Monroe County: Closed
  • Oak Ridge Schools: Opted to stay open
  • Sevier County: Closed
  • Union County: Half day

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