Hamilton County schools to close for total solar eclipse

A total solar eclipse is seen in Belitung, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 9, 2016. A total solar eclipse was witnessed along a narrow path that stretched across Indonesia while in other parts of Asia a partial eclipse was visible.

Hamilton County Schools and school age childcare facilities will be closed on Monday, August 21, according to a news release from the Hamilton County Department of Education.

The HCDE said the closure is "due to safety concerns," as the first total solar eclipse in 99 years passes across the entire continental United States.

The eclipse will occur at approximately 2:30 p.m. in the Chattanooga area, which means many schools will be dismissing students early that afternoon and Hamilton County School's buses will be on the county's busy roads.

"The safety of our students is always our number one priority," Johnson said in the release. "By closing the schools we ensure the safety of our precious students, as well as the many HCDE employees."

In order for students to learn more about this once-in-a-lifetime event, many HCDE science teachers attended special professional development sessions this week. The sessions were led by experts from Nashville's Adventure Science Center and encouraged teachers to brainstorm lessons about the eclipse, as well as safe viewing practices.

According to the release, every K-12 teacher will be provided lesson plans about the eclipse and safety to present in the weeks leading up to the event. Many teachers and counselors have also purchased eclipse glasses for their students to view the event safely at their homes.

Chattanooga will only view a 90 percent coverage of the sun during the eclipse, but northern Hamilton County towns including Bakewell and Sale Creek will view a total solar eclipse as the moon's shadow, called the umbra, blocks the sun completely.

It's never safe to look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse. The use of camera obscuras or eclipse glasses are advised.