Duplin County schools dismiss early for eclipse

DUPLIN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – A school system in the east dismissed early for The Great American Eclipse.

The rare solar eclipse on Monday sparked a lot of excitement, but also warnings about the risks of looking at the sun without protection. Duplin County schools decided to take action to prevent anything that could harm students.

Parents across the county lined up to pick their kids up from school at noon ahead of the eclipse.

“Maybe when I saw it I was young so seeing it with my son is going to be amazing,” parent Roxana Alston said.

According to Superintendent of Duplin County Schools Dr. Austin Obasohan, travel during the eclipse time may be less safe than normal, with less daylight occurring and drivers possibly being more distracted during the eclipse.

It was reported that Monday’s solar eclipse would occur during regular dismissal times, therefore, out of an abundance of caution, Duplin County Schools dismissed students early.

“Doing so allowed students to be in the care of their parents and/or guardians to experience this historical event should they choose to do so,” Obasohan said in a statement.

Many parents agreed with the school’s decision.

“When I was in school, never got out for a solar eclipse,” Alston said. “So it was amazing when I heard the county was letting school out early at noon today.”

However, others had reservations about the decision made.

“These kids seem like they stay out of school more than they do in,” parent Sharon Nickelson said. ” So for the solar eclipse, I don’t understand why they want to get out early.”

According to the American Society of Retina Specialists, looking up at the sun during an eclipse could present safety risks, such as vision damage, including, potentially, permanent vision loss. Wearing the proper eye protection can prevent this.

Once Nickelson heard about the risks and protective glasses, her thoughts on the early release shifted.

“I think that’s a good idea,” Nickelson said. ” As a matter of fact, when I pick them up, I guess I got to go see if I can find some for them to look at the eclipse.”

Duplin County Schools’ Christy Johnson says all afterschool activities including athletic events are canceled, and all staff were released at 1:30 pm.