Schools will start a few days earlier in South Carolina after the General Assembly approved Aug. 17 as the start date so districts can use the transcontinental solar eclipse on Aug. 21 as a teaching moment for students.
While some schools have chosen to extend the school day for the eclipse since the moment of totality in the Lakelands is at 2:39 p.m., others have chosen to cancel school for the day.
Greenwood County School District 50
The first day of school in District 50 (Thursday) will focus on normal back-to-school protocol, but Aug. 18 and 21 will be dedicated to learning about the solar eclipse.
Students and staff will all receive eclipse glasses donated by Velux, of which the district has about 11,000.
The district has extended the school day by 30 minutes so students can watch the eclipse with their classes.
Students will have to turn in a signed waiver in order to view the eclipse outside, and if they don't, they will be able view it on a live stream by NASA in a classroom.
Jenny Risinger, who is coordinating eclipse activities in the district, said teachers at all levels are preparing lesson plans for students.
"Some of our elementary are making pinhole cameras and models, scale models so they can understand that even though the moon is 400 times smaller, the sun is 400 times farther away and so it covers," Risinger said.
Topics teachers will cover include folklore and constructing viewers for the eclipse. The lesson plans are on Padlet, an online bulletin board on District 50's website for teachers and parents to look through.
Beverly Alford, a science teacher at Westview Middle School, has planned a project-based learning assignment on Aug. 18 for several eighth-grade classes in the school.
The students will be given a dossier of information about two locations in the path of totality and will have to pick which will be the best from which to view the eclipse.
"So we're trying to incorporate the social studies aspect because we talk about the geography of the setting and how some places are closer to others, and we tie in the math with the cost analysis, and we're tying in the science because we're going over the eclipse in science class, and we're also going to tie in the ELA with the argumentative writing," Alford said.
At the high school level, science teachers are coming up with their own lessons, but Risinger said they will talk about protecting vision during eclipses and the technology behind the solar eclipse glasses.
"We want to make sure our children are educated before the eclipse and know safety with the eclipse glasses and for viewing procedures," Risinger said. "We also want them to know why it's happening, what is it and why is it so significant and unique."
Greenwood County School District 51
Students in District 51 will be able to view the eclipse at the Ware Shoals High School baseball stadium, where students and staff will gather at 2 p.m. with glasses provided by the district.
Students in 4K and 5K do not have to attend and can view the eclipse via a live stream in a classroom at the high school.
The Ballpark Blackout event is also open to parents and residents, and all students will dismiss at 3:05 p.m.
Greenwood County School District 52
District 52 has canceled school for all students Aug. 21 for the eclipse.
The school has a full day of eclipse activities planned for Aug. 21.
Lori Anne Tunstall Hagood, new head of school and a Cambridge alumna, said activities include a school-wide assembly, with eclipse information from teachers and students; middle and upper school students leading lower school students through experiments and activities; students and parents are invited to gather on the football field to view the eclipse (viewing glasses are being donated by Sage Automotive) and school dismissal time is being delayed to accommodate viewing.
Greenwood Christian School
Greenwood Christian has a day of activities planned for the eclipse and is extending the school day to 3:30 p.m.
Students will be given eclipse glasses by the school, but students in elementary grades will need parental permission to participate in viewing the eclipse.
Students in 3K through second grade will need a parent present to watch the eclipse.
Any student without permission or a parent present will be dismissed by 2 p.m. or will participate in indoor activities until 3:30 p.m.
Chris Johns, head of school, said in a released statement that the school would not dismiss students between 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
"We are looking at this as an opportunity to use a once in a lifetime event as a great learning experience. Safety is important and we will take the appropriate measures with age-appropriate children," Johns said in the statement. "The younger ones, in our opinion, need a one-to-one adult supervision to ensure eye safety. We know this may cause schedule issues and will provide care indoors if parents cannot join us that afternoon."
Abbeville County School District
Abbeville school district has canceled school for all students Aug. 21 for the eclipse.
McCormick County School District
Students in McCormick will be able to view the eclipse with glasses provided by the district at various viewing stations at the school complex.
Students in elementary school will be able to view it via a live stream in a classroom.
Staff, along with 100 students from the 21st Century Afterschool program, Read to Succeed program and students chosen by a lottery system will travel to Columbia Aug. 21 to the South Carolina State Museum to learn about and view the eclipse.
The district's dismissal time has been extended to 3:40 p.m.