How Atlanta-area schools are observing the solar eclipse

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Photo: NASA

It's a once in a lifetime event. For the first time in 99 years, there will be a coast to coast total eclipse of the sun across the United States. 

Here in Georgia, many school systems are preparing for the August 21 eclipse.

Dozens of schools are delaying dismissal times, citing safety concerns for the children.  Most schools will be handing out solar sunglasses to the students. 

School officials say it's best to have the students in school to monitor the use of those glasses because if they don't use them it could cause permanent damage to their eyes. 

School officials say it's also a matter of timing. The peak of the eclipse will happen about the same time many students are leaving school for the day, and they don't want the kids on the roads during the eclipse. 

"People will be looking up and driving, and we know how Atlanta traffic is, and we don't want to put our kids at risk," said Dr. Rabieh Hafza with Atlanta Public Schools.

The Fernbank Science Center has a simulation of what the eclipse will look like. Astronomy Instructor, Mark Lancaster, says contrary to popular belief, it will not get dark in the metro Atlanta area because only 97% of the sun will be covered. 

However, he says in North Georgia, there will be a total eclipse.

"The sky will get dark, stars will come out, crickets will start to make noise, the birds will be chirping, they're very confused," said Lancaster.  Lancaster who has witnessed a total eclipse calls it "one of the most awe inspiring things in nature".

Here is a list of how schools are handling the event:

Atlanta Public Schools - delay dismissal 30 minutes
Cobb County Schools- delay dismissal 45 minutes
Fulton County - delay dismissal 45 minutes
Gwinnett County Schools - delay dismissal 1 hour
Marietta Schools - delay dismissal 15 minutes
Henry County schools- delay dismissal 1 hour
Paulding County - delay dismissal 1 hour

Fannin County
Gilmer County
Pickens County