Below is an excerpt from a letter received from a local eye doctor about the solar eclipse that is being distributed to all staff members at Idabel Public Schools.
Good afternoon school administrators,
My name is Dr. Peter Bako and I work for Texarkana Eye Associates in Idabel as one of the local Optometrists. You may or may not be aware of the upcoming solar eclipse passing by this month on the 21st. We are not in the path of totality (when the moon completely blocks out the sun), however, we will have a partial eclipse (roughly 80%). This will be occurring during school hours between 11:30am-2:45pm. There are serious risks associated with viewing a solar eclipse directly, even with the use of solar filtered glasses.
To those schools putting together science experiments or viewing parties, we have to keep in mind the school will have an extremely hard time controlling every aspect of such an exercise. The glasses that can be purchased are not always made for children and it may be unrealistic to assume every child will use the glasses correctly the entire time. If the filtered glasses do not block out 100% of UV light, if they are not used perfectly, or there is a manufacture defect (there have been several recalls already), this can result in permanent vision loss. Traditional sunglasses are NOT an option! It is similar to a sunburn in that the effects are not felt or noticed immediately. Since this will be occurring during school hours, in order to avoid any liability for the school I strongly suggest informing your student body that there is absolutely no way to safely view the solar eclipse other than on TV.
You may hear that during totality it safe to view the eclipse. Since we are not directly in that path, we will only witness a partial eclipse. This means there will never be a safe time to look at the eclipse.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to email me or call my office and I will be happy to discuss further. If I can be of any service to the school or student now or in the future please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
I have provided a few links below that may help shed more light on this issue. Feel free to forward this email in order to spread awareness.
Peter Bako, O.D.
The safety of the students of Idabel Publics Schools is a priority to ALL of our staff. Please discuss with your children the potentially dangerous effects of looking directly at the sun at any time but especially during an eclipse. Our schools will have informational and educational material available to all of our students so they won't miss out on this special event.