To avoid eclipse, Sumter School District to start with half day next school year

At least one potential crisis for the Sumter School District appears to have been averted well ahead of time.

In our last post of 2016, we pointed out that the sun and the moon were conspiring to make the first day of the 2017-18 school year a potentially chaotic one, as a full solar eclipse would descend upon Sumter right around the time most students would be getting out of school.

Needless to say, the problem wasn’t going to occur just in Sumter, but in a large swath of South Carolina, as the astronomic rarity crosses the state on August 21, the path and timing of which can be found at this website.  According to the calculations, Sumter will enter into full eclipse at 2:42 p.m.

Realizing the potential disruption, let alone traffic concerns, the eclipse could cause, legislators in the South Carolina General  Assembly passed a bill allowing public school districts to open up to two days earlier than typical so that schools could plan for the event. Instead of starting school a few days early, however, the Sumter School District has opted to avoid the problems the eclipse could cause by dismissing early that Monday, giving students time to get home before the darkness descends, according to notices sent to current district teachers.

The early dismissal doesn’t mean there shouldn’t still be planning.  If anything, it meant parents are going to need to be more vigilant to make sure their children are protected during the celestial event.  (Don’t stare directly at the sun without eye protection, kids, even during an eclipse.)

Because of this, we repeat our thoughts from December’s post, when we suggested parents and teachers go ahead and begin preparing for the eclipse, not only to make safety plans, but also to make that afternoon an educational one, not just for students, but parents as well.  After all, this will probably be the best chance most of us, including our kids, have to witness this type of celestial event in our lifetimes.

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