By Tia Lynn Ivey
A massive recall of eclipse glasses threw a wrench into the school system’s plans to allow students to view the nationwide solar eclipse this past Monday.
The Morgan County Charter School System had procured eclipse safety glasses through Amazon to ensure the students of Morgan County could view the eclipse at school. However, just one week before the eclipse, Amazon issued a massive recall of the glasses.
“The Amazon recall affected many school systems across Georgia,” lamented Superintendent James Woodard. “There were no other sources of glass available.”
School officials at each of Morgan County’s four schools scrambled to secure alternative viewing methods for students.
“Parents were notified and each school worked to provide age-appropriate solar eclipse viewing experiences,” explained Woodard. “These include pin-hole cameras and live-streaming. Middle and high school students were able to view directly with parent permission if they had solar eclipse glasses or pin-hole cameras.
Morgan County High School had several options for viewing the eclipse. Teacher Alec Johnson took about 126 students up to Clemson, South Carolina on a field trip to view the eclipse from a prime location for optimal sight. During the trip students collected data that they will send off to NASA, including observations on light, temperature, sounds, and a solar power reading from a solar panel during the eclipse.
“This is why I got into teaching,” said Johnson, who was thrilled to see his students enjoying the science behind eclipses. According to Johnson, the best part of the experience was the sense of unity among people watching the eclipse.
“There are not a lot of times where people put aside their differences in politics or religious thoughts and just sit in amazement at nature,” said Johnson. “But that is exactly what happened during the eclipse and these teenagers were able to see that and were changed by this moment of awe and no one can ever take that away from them.”
Students who remained at school headed over the Bill Corry Stadium to watch the natural phenomenon. Students who didn’t have parent permission to participate watched a live-stream of the eclipse in the auditorium.
Similarly, the middle school students were given the opportunity to go outside to see the eclipse with either glasses provided by their families or with viewers they made in science class.
Younger students at the elementary and primary schools were not allowed to view the eclipse outside for safety concerns, but were able to watch a live-steam of the eclipse while being taught various lessons about the phenomenon.
School officials noted a higher rate of absence than normal for each of the schools due to family trips to view the eclipse together. However, absences for eclipse viewings will not be excused.