A number of schools across the country opted to close for the day to celebrate the August 21st, 2017 eclipse. Celebrating the eclipse is wonderful, but schools were likely motivated as much by safety as by science. For larger school districts, having responsibility for thousands of children during a dangerous event such as a solar eclipse just did not make sense.
Though most of the talk of the eclipse has been about how it is a unique opportunity to witness how the solar system functions, the inherent risk posed by the event has gotten some exposure. Though the visible light from the sun is diminished by an eclipse, the ultraviolet rays emanating from the sun remain just as dangerous to human vision.
In fact, the danger to the human eye can be higher during an eclipse, because it is actually possible to look at the sun. Most of the time, a person will reflexively look away because it is too bright. But during an eclipse, a person is able to stare at it, increasing the risk of exposure to damaging light.
Those schools which remained open had a duty to keep kids safe, meaning minimizing the risk of accidental exposure to damaging UV light. Knowing whether or not your child suffered from unwarranted exposure can be difficult. The retina lacks pain receptors, so the only symptoms of overexposure can be damaged vision, which can range from legal blindness to complete blindness.
If you suspect your child might have damaged vision after the eclipse, and you suspect the school did not provide proper monitoring to ensure safety for all students, please contact an experienced attorney. Schools owe it to children and to parents to put safety first, no matter the situation, and failure to provide proper oversight and safety instructions to students is not acceptable.