Tens of thousands of people are gearing up for eclipse day in the region, and while Cass County may not be in the path of totality, schools and area organizations are still looking forward to the big day.
The total solar eclipse is expected to last about up to two minutes and 40 seconds shortly after 1 p.m. Monday in areas at the centerline of its path, such as St. Joseph. It’s considered the first eclipse in nearly 40 years to cross the continental United States, from Oregon to South Carolina.
Though Cass County isn’t within the 70 mile wide path of totality, those in the county on Monday will see at least a partial eclipse. Assuming the skies are clear for viewing the eclipse, residents in the north half of the county, from Harrisonville, Peculiar, Pleasant Hill, Belton and Raymore areas, will be able to see the moon covering more than 99 percent of the sun. The eclipse is expected to begin at 11:41 a.m. Monday.
Among those who are preparing for the main event are schools.
Belton and Harrisonville schools are among districts in the area that will be in session for the new school year by Monday. Teachers in both districts are planning class activities surrounding the once-in-a-lifetime event.
“We are very excited about the learning opportunities that come with this event,” Harrisonville School District posted on its page in July. “We have eclipse glasses for all district students and staff which will allow us to safely view the eclipse. Teachers will be planning classroom activities to extend the learning beyond just the viewing experience.”
They are also planing to ensure parents have the opportunity to see the eclipse at school with their children if they would like.
A spokeswoman said the Harrisonville district purchased 3,000 glasses from American Paper Optics, one of the vendors recommended by the American Astronomical Society. The district said it paid about $1,350 for the glasses at 45 cents each.
Officials at Belton School District 124 say students will also be participating in a wide range of activities on eclipse day.
“The Belton School District will have school that day, and we will provide special eclipse glasses to all students and staff to ensure proper eye protection when viewing the event. Thank you to the Cass County Health Department for their generous donation,” the district said on its Facebook page. “Students will learn the appropriate guidelines for experiencing the eclipse, and teachers will provide a variety of activities for students to better understand the eclipse event. Each school will be sharing more information as the date nears.”
The district also shared a link to NASA’s website, which includes an interactive map for those looking to see the path of the total solar eclipse.
The Raymore-Peculiar School District and Sherwood Cass R-8 School District won’t start classes until next week, but according to an announcement from its Facebook page, the Cass County Health Department planned to make solar eclipse glasses available for pick-up at locations in the community for students within those districts.
The Cass County Health Department said Monday that the solar eclipse glasses its providing to schools were purchased with Maternal and Child Health block grant funding. The glasses are intended for Cass County K-12 students and staff only, and supplies are limited; however, the organization posted this week that citizens could find solar eclipse glasses at some retailers in the county, including Walmart, Hy-Vee and Menard’s. But by Monday, many retailers had reported they had sold out.