Eclipse won’t change class schedule in Charlotte County schools

Published 8:00 am Friday, April 5, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Charlotte County schools will be on regular schedule Monday. The district is one of several in the region that plans to use the upcoming solar eclipse to teach, rather than keeping students out of school. 

“We plan to operate on a normal schedule,” Charlotte Superintendent Robbie Mason said. 

Neighboring Prince Edward County, as well as Buckingham, have announced plans to extend Spring Break by one day, rather than have students in class during Monday’s eclipse. Lunenburg and Cumberland counties, meanwhile, like Charlotte, plan to keep kids in class. It’s worth pointing out that Prince Edward and Buckingham students will now have to go one day later in May, in order to make up Monday’s absence. 

So to explain what we’re talking about, on Monday, April 8, Central and Southside Virginia will be able to witness a solar eclipse, the first since 2017. Starting at 1:57 p.m. and running until 4:28 p.m., this area of Virginia will see 83.8% of the sun blocked by the moon when the eclipse reaches its peak. 

It’s also something of a rare opportunity, as the next eclipse of this type isn’t expected to arrive until August 3, 2044. Miss out on this and it could be 20 years before something similar comes by. This is a partial eclipse, which is when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, but the sun, moon and Earth are not perfectly lined up. Only part of the sun will be covered, giving it a bit of a crescent shape. 

Charlotte students will be able to safely watch the eclipse, thanks to material provided by the district. At Randolph-Henry High, classes will be heading out of the building for a while. 

“All classes are invited to go outside, beginning at 2 p.m.,” said Randolph-Henry Principal Erin Davis. “We have glasses for everyone!”

So why would they need glasses? Let us explain. 

Charlotte County schools and beyond, what to look for

So if you’re at home with grandchildren during the eclipse or have kids that will be in school during the eclipse, here’s some tips to go over, courtesy of NASA. 

First and foremost, don’t look straight at the eclipse without eclipse sunglasses. We’re not talking about regular sunglasses. Unless they have the label on the side of ISO 12312-2, it’s not a certified eclipse brand. That’s a safety label, simply verifying the glasses are an approved “solar viewer”.

If you look straight up at the eclipse with nothing but your bare eyes, it can cause serious damage, even if it does look dark. That’s because the intense light from the sun could cause permanent damage to your retina. And no, this isn’t something you get from staring up at it for minutes. NASA officials warn that eye damage can happen within just a couple seconds of staring straight at the eclipse.