RSD ensures safety during eclipse
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When the eclipse reaches totality around 1 PM on Monday the 21st, MHS students can expect to see day briefly turn to night. A sky riddled with abundant stars and four planets will engage every student for just a few minutes. Though exciting, the first total eclipse in the United States since 1979 can also lead to potential eye damage if not handled correctly.
Specialized protective glasses for each student and faculty member make up the first step of RSD’s plan to ensure safety on the day of the eclipse. The district obtained the glasses by working with local ophthalmologists.
“We’re going to show a couple of short videos before we head outside that are going to talk a little bit about safety as well as the history of the eclipse,” Rick Regina, sophomore principal, said. “The school district is providing glasses for each and every student.”
Regina said the schedule will be slightly changed to allow students approximately an hour to view the eclipse as it reaches totality.
”There will be a modified schedule, so students will meet with all seven classes but it will allow us an hour, maybe a little bit less, to be outside,” Regina said. “We will have time to go outside.”
Though significant traffic can lead to a change in plans, the Rockwood School District will be having school on eclipse day to further ensure the safety of all students.
“When we don’t have school, many students end up going unsupervised,” Dr. Eric Knost, superintendent, said. “There are thousands of parents who tell that they do not have the luxury of providing alternative daycare to students. It’s the right thing to do, for us, to have school in an educational setting and try to make the eclipse productive and about science and education.”
Injuries are certainly a possibility in the midst of such a serious and rare event. Though, a school campus may be one of the safest environments for students during the eclipse, Dr. Knost said.
“There are going to be challenges with the day. But to me, it seems like the weak and the easy way out to dump all of these kids on the community and let them figure it out and hope that everything goes well,” Dr. Knost said. “It seems like the right thing to do is to have school and embrace the opportunity to do our best to supervise students like we do every day.”
RSD can not be held liable in the event that a student takes off his/her provided glasses during the eclipse, Dr. Knost added.
“Everyday, we give instructions to students and the vast majority of them comply with the instructions,” Dr. Knost said. “And with something so serious, I have faith in students that they’re going to understand that they need to wear the glasses. Our instructions are consistent with what is right, and if someone chooses to take off their glasses, that’s not really a Rockwood liability.”
Prior to a school cancellation, an emergency management agency issues a bulk statement to school district officials recommending cancellation. According to Dr. Knost, no such statement has been issued to RSD as of now.
Andrew Gates, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) spokesman, said the number one safety preparation for students who will not be at school on Monday should be planning.
“Planning is probably the best thing that anyone can do at this point in time,” Gates said. “Plan where you want to be when the eclipse is going on. Leave early, get there, stay in place. Try to take some extra time to stay in place until some time after the eclipse is over to get traffic an opportunity to reduce a bit. It’s going to be like everyone leaving Busch Stadium except across the entire region.”
Gates said MoDOT is taking extra steps to ensure safety on the roads in spite of the massive event.
“We are trying to ensure that traffic keeps flowing as best as we can,” Gates said. “When you have as many vehicles as we are expecting on the road, you will have crashes or incidents. We are stationing our emergency response teams around the region in an effort to try to respond quicker if there is an incident.”
Students watch eclipse outside of school:
Students and faculty reflect on eclipse: