Bay District Schools will not allow outdoor activities during solar eclipse

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Adults and children alike are anticipating Monday's solar eclipse.

Bay District Schools announced no outdoor activities will be allowed from 12:07 p.m. until after 3:05 p.m.

"Safety is always at the forefront of everything we do, and because this is a main issue, with the eclipse and the dangers it can pose, we are trying to be proactive," Superintendent Bill Husfelt said.

For students who are dismissed from schools during this window, the school district said those students will be closely monitored.

Wes Fickel, a Bay District Schools parent, said he understands the decision, but also believes students will be missing out on a learning opportunity.

"I see the liability aspect, not having the kids damage their eyes, but at the same token, I see this as a great missed opportunity for the kids," Fickel said.

He said his family purchased solar eclipse viewing glasses so his children could use them at school.

"Puts a damper on things for us as parents that have explained to them what they can and can't do and how to do it," Fickel said.

The school district said it had to consider the liability of allowing thousands of Bay District students outside during the eclipse.

"Keeping children safe is on my shoulders every day, rather I like it, or rather I don't, and I'm not worried about rather it's the popular opinion, I'm more concerned about what's the safest and smartest thing to do for our students," Husfelt said.

Some teachers also said they understood the reasoning behind the decision, but would like for students to experience the eclipse firsthand.

"I think that with the proper precautions, the teachers should be able to take the students outdoors and look and see exactly what an eclipse is, because we can show them video but it's not the same," Dennis Bennett, a math teacher at Mowat Middle School, said.

Husfelt said if solar eclipse viewing glasses get a scratch or wrinkle, they will no longer be protective.

"We're going to pay 48 cents for something that's going to protect our children's eyes? I just can't do it . I can't risk any student having some kind of medical issue with this because we weren't as careful as we could be," Husfelt said.

In lieu of allowing outdoor activities, Bay District Schools will stream NASA's solar eclipse broadcast indoors.

Husfelt also said Bay District students are allotted five family leave days and that families may use one for the event.