All Hamilton County schools and school-age child care will be closed Aug. 21 forthe first total solar eclipse to occur across the entire continental United States in 99 years, according to a news release.

The eclipse will reach totality at approximately 2:30 p.m., a time when many schools will be dismissing and Hamilton County buses will be on the roads.

“The safety of our students is always our No. 1 priority,” Hamilton County Department of Education Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson said in a prepared statement. “By closing the schools, we ensure the safety of our precious students, as well as the many HCDE employees.”

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This past week, dozens of Hamilton County Department of Education science teachers attended professional development sessions, according to the news release. The sessions, led by experts from Nashville’s Adventure Science Center, encouraged teachers to brainstorm lessons about this rare opportunity, as well as provided safe viewing practices.

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

Although Chattanooga will only view a 90 percent coverage of the sun, northern Hamilton County towns such as Bakewell and Sale Creek will view a total solar eclipse, according to the news release.A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the sun and casts its shadow.

As a general reminder, it is never safe to look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse, according to the news release. The use of camera obscuras or eclipse glasses is advised.

Hamilton County schools’ first full day is Aug. 10.

For more information about solar eclipses and safety, click here.

To view an eclipse map and simulation, click here.

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