Students in Fayette County public schools will get the day off to watch this month’s solar eclipse.
The Fayette County school board voted Monday to give students Aug. 21 off by shifting a previously-scheduled day off from October.
The eclipse was not the only reason that school board members on Monday made the change in the 2017-18 school calendar from having a day off on Oct. 27, but it was an added bonus, said district pupil personnel director Steve Hill.
Hill said district officials made the change primarily so they could make staffing adjustments near the first day of school on Aug.16 to ensure schools had an adequate number of teachers.
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But district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall also said that if there had been no changes to the schedule the district would have been dismissing students at the peak of the eclipse.
Lexington will experience 95 percent totality, a district news release said, with the eclipse starting at 1:02 p.m., peaking at 2:30 p.m. and finishing at 3:54 p.m. Regular school start and end times in Fayette County would release elementary students during the peak of the eclipse and dismiss high school students before the eclipse is over.
Hill said there was a safety issue.
Deffendall said the main “concern during the eclipse is eye safety.”
“The students wearing eclipse safety glasses shouldn’t be walking or driving,” Deffendall said, or be in the path of distracted drivers.
Hill also said that several families had contacted his office because they wanted to go to Western Kentucky on Aug. 21, where they could see the full eclipse and share an educational experience with their children. Hopkinsville, which is about 65 miles west of Bowling Green, is the point of greatest eclipse, where the moon will cover the sun 100 percent for the longest period, and could offer the best view of the phenomenon.
Fayette students will now be going to school on Oct. 27, which originally was a scheduled day off.
Other school districts in Kentucky have adjusted their schedule on Aug. 21, most recently Harlan County where officials have called school off for that afternoon.
Corbin Independent Schools won’t be in session. It will be a non-traditional instruction day for students to learn from home. Several districts in Western Kentucky also have canceled school that day.