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Special School District of St. Louis County

SSD Prepares for Solar Eclipse

On Aug. 21, the United States will experience a total solar eclipse that will be visible from coast to coast, and SSD is making plans to maximize the learning opportunities of this rare and striking phenomenon.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets in the way of the sun, tuning day to an eerie twilight. If it’s a clear day, more Americans should be able to see this one than ever before as it passes through 12 states.

It will be the first total eclipse visible only in the United States since the country was founded in 1776, according to NASA.

In St. Louis, the solar eclipse will begin at 11:50 a.m. on Aug. 21 and end at 2:44 p.m. Maximum eclipse time, when the moon is closest to the center of the sun, will occur at 1:18 p.m.

SSD will distribute 3,200 NASA-approved safety glasses to staff and students in SSD schools and programs – including the District’s five special education schools and two technical high schools – as well as at SSD’s Central Office, Distribution Center and Learning Center.

The safety glasses feature special-purpose solar filters, which are the only safe way to look directly at a partially or fully eclipsed sun. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun during an eclipse, said John Mueller, SSD’s director of safety and security.

“Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief totality phase of a solar eclipse, when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s face. That will happen only for a few seconds during the sun’s totality,” Mueller said. “No matter what recommended technique you use, do not stare continuously at the sun. Take breaks and give your eyes a rest.”

The solar eclipse will provide a wealth of information to scientists, including information about the sun, the atmosphere, and even animal and plant behavior.

SSD schools are tying curriculum related to the eclipse into their teaching, said Wendi Pendergrass, SSD’s executive director of special education schools and programs.

“Students will learn what the solar eclipse is and how it affects us,” Pendergrass said. “And because Missouri is such a key place for the solar eclipse, our schools will have appropriate activities based on age and learning abilities.”

Providing a safe and educational experience is the District's top priority. Staff members will assist students in safely viewing the eclipse, and students who opt to stay inside will watch a NASA video feed of the eclipse.

arrow icon To learn more about the eclipse, visit NASA’s website at

Published July 2017

John Mueller wearing safety glassesJohn Mueller, SSD’s director of safety and security, demonstrates the safety glasses that SSD will provide to students and staff.

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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