Are schools right to ban solar eclipse viewing?

Are schools right to ban solar eclipse viewing?

Health and Safety

Are schools right to ban solar eclipse viewing?


Short answer: No.

My husband and I are pulling our two children out of school on Monday.

Our district, like many others around the nation, has cancelled all outdoor activities because of the solar eclipse.

Children will instead watch this unique phenomena on a livestream (assuming it works) from their classrooms.

I understand the need for safety, but by issuing a blanket ban on anything related to the eclipse, our schools are depriving our children of a valuable learning opportunity.

So we’re taking our kids to a solar eclipse viewing party at our local science center.

The last time a total or partial solar eclipse was visible in the United States was 1979.

Hands-on learning

My husband and I remember it well. We were about the same age our children are now.

And it was a big deal.

For a week, our respective classrooms — mine in Illinois, and his in California — not only learned about the science behind the eclipse, we engaged in hands-on, teacher-led activities where we made our own pinhole viewers.

On the day of the eclipse, we all eagerly marched out on the playground, looking straight down at our feet, and put our rudimentary eclipse viewers to to work.

I still remember that day 38 years later.

We shouldn’t be driven by fear

Why would educators deprive our children of the same excitement and opportunity?

We all know why.

Safety concerns, and fear of lawsuits if someone gets hurt.

Certainly, looking directly at an eclipse is a terrible idea. And obviously, I would never want to scar or permanently damage my children’s eyes.

I understand not allowing hundreds of children onto a playground for recess, or even entire classes at the time. But why not plan in advance and order safety glasses, like some schools have done? Why not take the kids in classes out in small groups at a time? Better yet, invite parents to come to school and experience the eclipse with their children.

As a parent, I accept the risks, and the personal responsibility that comes with teaching my children to follow instructions — and to make sure they are doing so on Monday.

But I don’t want to shield them from what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity out of fear.


Watch: How to make an eclipse viewer

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