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Eclipse glasses given to local schools

The St. Louis Eclipse Task Force has announced it will provide students and staff members at St. Francois, Madison and Iron County K-12 public and private schools with solar glasses for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse.

The St. Louis Eclipse Task Force is a collaboration of organizations working together since 2014 to help the St. Louis area prepare for the rare celestial event coming up later this month. The task force is comprised of more than 100 organizations including cities, schools, parks, tourism groups and businesses who meet monthly at the Saint Louis Science Center.

According to Don Ficken, Eclipse Task Force coordinator, direct viewing of the visible surface of the sun requires suitable eye protection at any time, including the partial phases of a solar eclipse.

“It is only during the total phase of a solar eclipse that the sun can be viewed safely without protection,” he said. “The solar viewing glasses filter out invisible radiation and 99.99 percent of the visible light. Even the view of a partial solar eclipse is a sight long remembered by adults and children alike.

“The very rare viewing of a total solar eclipse — with the solar corona shimmering in a deep twilight-dark sky — is one of the most spectacular sights in nature. Our goal is to have all students witness the partial eclipse safely and to have as many as possible view the total solar eclipse.”

Ficken said there will be no expense for the glasses the schools receive from the task force.

“Schools in the three counties will receive one pair of glasses per student and staff member at no cost,” he said. “The goal of the program is to promote safe viewing practices for the upcoming total solar eclipse by providing ISO certified solar glasses to as many pre-collegiate schools as possible located in the greater St. Louis area.”

Ficken explained that priority was given to schools with the greatest percentage of students qualifying for federal free-and-reduced lunch programs and/or the lowest amount of per-pupil expenditures.

“The K-12 solar eclipse glasses giveaway program was launched with 20,000 solar glasses available for distribution to schools,” Ficken said. “The task force also received a donation from MasterCard of 50,000 additional solar viewing glasses for local pre-college schools, as well.”

<span><p class=More than 90 area leaders participate in the St. Louis Eclipse Task Force meeting held at the Saint Louis Science Center in January. The task force is providing free solar eclipse viewing glasses to public and private schools in St. Francois, Madison and Iron County for the Aug. 21 celestial event.” width=”800″ /> More than 90 area leaders participate in the St. Louis Eclipse Task Force meeting held at the Saint Louis Science Center in January. The task force is providing free solar eclipse viewing glasses to public and private schools in St. Francois, Madison and Iron County for the Aug. 21 celestial event.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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