Here’s the deal, according to the dealers. That would be Blount County Schools Superintendent Rodney Green and Oneonta City Schools interim Superintendent Tim Nabors.
Green: “We made the decision to stay in school based on the exceptional learning opportunities planned for our students. This was the first time since 1918 that a near-total solar eclipse would be visible on a path across the United States and, of course, across our school district. Since this was an historic event and an outstanding educational opportunity, we wanted our students to be able to experience this at school with their classmates in a positive way. Our K- 2 teachers planned indoor viewing activities on TV through live streaming.
Students in grades 3-12 were given the opportunity to go outside with parental permission and view the the eclipse with their class. We felt like for our system, staying in school was the safest plan for our students. It was going to be very difficult to get in a half day before the eclipse started at 12 noon, and then get everyone home safely before 1:30 with 105 buses and the large number of students driving (their own cars) that we have. My chief concern was for the many students that would have been going home (Ed. assuming school was dismissed at noon) to an empty household if parents could not get off work. I felt these students would be much safer at school with the supervision of the teachers. Another consideration was the large number of football players, band members, cheerleaders, volleyball players, and coaches that had to be back at school by 3 p.m. for afternoon practice, and this added to safety concerns.”
Green added that plans worked out well for the district, and that he is proud of the maturity and responsibility he observed students to display.
Nabors: “We thought this was a golden opportunity for all our students. This is the first time in many years a total eclipse has travelled a path across the entire country. We realized that if we kept the kids in school, we would have to keep some inside in the classroom. Our thoughts were that teachers would have some 25 kids apiece to monitor and assure their safety in viewing the eclipse, whereas, if we allowed them to stay home, the family would only have at most only two or three to watch and make sure they watched the eclipse safely. We just felt parents are in a better position to monitor their children – from a safety perspective, you understand – than we at the school are.”
Interesting that, reasoning from a concern about eclipse-watching safety, two school systems reached opposite decisions about what’s best for their students. The Blount Countian supports both rationales and both decisions.