MIAMI (CBSMiami) – American Heritage School, a private school in Plantation, has canceled the first day of school due to the solar eclipse on Monday.
An email sent to staff members Tuesday afternoon read, "As you may know, the South Florida area will experience a near total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st between the hours of 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. After careful consideration, we have decided to cancel classes and close the campus on that day. Please do not come to school on Monday, August 21st."
School Vice President Douglas Laurie told CBS4 News that it's all about the safety of the students.
"We're taking care of children who are a parent's most precious assets and when it comes to safety that can't be ignored," Laurie said. "This is a situation where children may put themselves in harm's way and we feel they're going to be better suited by being under the guidance of their parents in this situation."
Just yesterday, the Archdiocese of Miami announced it will release all elementary and high school students early in Miami-Dade and Broward on Miami due to the historic celestial event.
Schools run by the Archdiocese of Miami will dismiss students at 11:30 a.m. on Monday.
The Archdiocese said with the first day of school usually being pretty hectic, they decided to go with the early release so students can be in a safe environment during the solar eclipse.
Miami-Dade and Broward County Public Schools are not changing their hours and are moving outdoor after-school activities indoors.
School officials are making these changes so students don't suffer any permanent eye damage trying to look at the eclipse without proper protective eye wear.
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said the district is asking all bus drivers to be extra cautious as other drivers might be distracted on the roads looking at the eclipse.
He said principals will remind students, staff and visitors about the dangers of looking at the sun during the eclipse and the potential for damage to the eye unless they are wearing approved eclipse glasses.
The district will also use the eclipse as a teaching moment in science classes.
"It will be a first day of school that we won't forget for a long time," Runcie said.
During a solar eclipse, the moon passes between the sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun for up to about three hours.
In South Florida, it won't be a total solar eclipse but a partial eclipse reaching about 80% totality. It's expected to start at 1:26 p.m., peak at 2:58 p.m. and end by 4:20 p.m.
Experts warn folks not to look at the eclipse without proper eyewear. Regular sunglasses will not work.
According to NASA, this is the first total solar eclipse that can be seen in the Continental U.S. since in 1979.
The next total eclipse won't be observable in the United States until 2024 and not until August 2045 will Florida be in the next solar eclipse's path of totality.
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