BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) People all around our region are getting ready for the August 21st solar eclipse, including many area students. Some schools have adjusted their schedules and are holding the kids later. Others are providing students with safety glasses. But Bedford County schools will be doing neither - a fact many parents learned about in a letter from the school system today.
The reason behind the decision? Officials with Bedford County Public Schools say it boils down to funding.
In our region the eclipse is scheduled to be at its most visible point at around 2:41 pm on August 21st, right around the time kids in Bedford County will be getting on the bus. The letter county leaders sent home today states students will not be outside at all during the school day except for dismissal, school will run at usual times and no special viewing glasses will be provided.
“That price tag (for all of the glasses) becomes pretty hefty. And there is no line item in our budget for a solar eclipse. So that kind of put us in a tough spot,” said Bedford County Public Schools Spokesman, Ryan Edwards.
It’s not that Bedford County doesn’t want the students to view the eclipse, in fact Edwards says they would love for their students to see this once in a life time event. However, without the funding for the protective eye wear- their concentration needs to be on safety.
School divisions like Botetourt County and Lynchburg City Schools will be providing safety glasses. LCS had to purchase 10,500 glasses for everyone in the district. The reason it was possible? Generous donations. The Lynchburg Education Foundation and various business sponsors were able to help purchase the glasses. Leaders with Lynchburg City Schools say they are excited… and lucky.
For school districts that were not so lucky, like Bedford County, it's more of an uphill battle. They say they want to let the kids see the eclipse, but they have to put safety first.
“If we were able to secure those glasses I think it would go a long way towards fulfilling both of those priorities,” said Edwards.
The School Division would need to provide about 9,500 pairs of glasses for the students. They are hoping a business or individual in Bedford County will step up and help provide funding. Officials have already put calls out to businesses in the area asking for donations. If they do not get the funding, the letter holds true.