On Monday, August 21, all of North America will experience a rare celestial event, a solar eclipse. Some states will see a full solar eclipse, others, like Florida, will see a partial eclipse.

In Southwest Florida, the eclipse will begin around 1:15pm and continue until about 4:20pm. Lee County will experience the maximum eclipse at approximately 2:53pm.

This time correlates with school dismissals and other outdoor school activities, so students should be educated to the importance of not viewing the eclipse with the naked eye.

What is a Solar Eclipse?

This celestial event is when the moon passes between the sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun for up to about three hours, from beginning to end, as viewed from a given location.  For this eclipse, the longest period when the moon completely blocks the sun from any given location along the path will be about two minutes and 40 seconds.  The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979. - NASA

Safety Information

Students, parents, and teachers should be aware that there is no safe time to look at the eclipse with the naked eye. Doing so can result in retinal damage without you experiencing any pain.

Homemade filters, telescopes, binoculars or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. The only safe way to look directly at the partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or handheld solar viewers made with special solar filters. Children should be supervised when using solar filters or eclipse glasses.

Before Monday, August 21, 2017, we ask that ALL PARENTS speak to their child about the eclipse and dangers of looking directly at the sun and the potential damage this can cause to their eyes.

Safe Preparation for the Eclipse

To limit student exposure and potential inclination to view the eclipse without proper equipment, the School District of Lee County will:

  • Move all outdoor activities like PE classes, recess, athletic practices, band practices, and aftercare programs indoors between the hours of 1:15pm and 4:20pm.
  • Keep students in their classrooms rather than allowing them to walk outside for a class change
  • Alter dismissal procedures for car and bus riders, if needed, to limit student movement prior to boarding. This may result in some delays, so we ask for your patience.
  • Require parent permission before students can participate in structured eclipse observation time. Students will be required to wear only eyewear recommended by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) that is provided by the school.  No outside glasses will be allowed.

We also ask that parents use caution while driving during the time of the eclipse, and to be especially careful in the parent pickup area at school to avoid distracted drivers, students, and pedestrians. Regular dismissal will not be affected.

Under Resources, you'll find a link to a list of reputable manufacturers and authorized dealers of solar filters and viewers whose products have been certified safe by authorities and confirmed to be genuine. Your eyes are precious! You don't need astronomers to tell you that, but you do need astronomers to tell you where to get safe solar filters. To do otherwise is to take unnecessary risks.