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Great response to instructional-day eclipse leads to minor traffic, access changes at Ballard County Schools

There has been such great parent response to Ballard County Schools’ instructional day for the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21 that the district has made some slight adjustments to its visitors’ traffic and parking plans.

“We are very excited to be hosting so many families on Eclipse Day,” said Superintendent Casey Allen. “Very few students in western Kentucky are going to have the opportunity that our children will have on Monday – students, families and school staff being together to watch this rare celestial event that people are traveling across the world to see. It is going to be historic!”

The only changes families will see are meant to make their visit easier – there is an additional entry point and parking lots for BCMS and BMHS parents, and additional volunteers, staff and community partners will be assisting with traffic flow, parking and safety.

District teachers, administrators and staff have put many hours into planning activities and developing an overall plan for the day, Allen continued. “We want to make this the best learning experience for our kids that it can be,” he said. “Things will be different from our usual day, things may change a little as the day progresses, but we’re going to be flexible and excited about this very rare opportunity we’ve been given. We ask that our visitor be flexible and excited with us, and just enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event.”

The eclipse begins locally at 11:53 a.m., with totality beginning at 1:21 p.m. and ending at 1:23 p.m. The eclipse will end at 2:49 p.m. The school location will provide a prime opportunity for viewing the eclipse.

“I’m proud of our schools for making sure that every child has the chance to be a part of something unique and spectacular,” Allen concluded.

Here’s what hasn’t changed:

The district purchased special eclipse glasses that meet NASA and international ISO standards for safety for every K-12 student at Ballard County Schools. All students in those grades who return signed permission slips will have an opportunity that day to use these special filtering glasses to view the eclipse, then keep the glasses as a souvenir.

All K-12 students who have returned signed permission slips will participate in the live viewing. Preschool students in the afternoon session will participate in a virtual viewing. The district is providing specific viewing areas for each grade level on different sections of the campus, and parents, grandparents and legal guardians are welcome to come for the event. (Non-students attending will need to bring their own eclipse viewing glasses.)

Because all K-12 students will be out on campus that day, safety is a special concern. The district will restrict access to the entire campus from 12:15 to 1 p.m. on that day. Campus will be closed from 1 to 2 p.m., to facilitate uninterrupted viewing of this once-in-a-lifetime event. The campus will be reopened at 2 p.m.

Aug. 21 is the first day for preschool, so preschool parents are asked to use the regular (main) entrance on U.S. 60 between the high school and the board office to pick up and drop off students.

Preschool parents may begin lining up for pick-up and drop-off at the BCES east front entrance (the double doors by the tennis courts) no earlier than 15 minutes before each session – in other words, at 8:15 a.m. for the morning session, 11:45 a.m. for midday pick up/drop off, and at 3:15 p.m. for afternoon session pick up.

Here are the changes to the plan:

· 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. - Backing up the start time to 11:30 a.m., and making this location for BCES parents ONLY to check in at the Ballpark Road parking lot (behind BCES).

Noon – 12:45 p.m. – Backing up the start time to noon, and making a NEW location for BCMS/BMHS parents ONLY to check in. Middle- and high-school parents are asked to enter on Vocational School Road (east end of campus, next to Ballard Career and Technical School) and use the lots nearest those schools.

· BCMS parents will park in the back BMHS parking lot adjacent to the old football practice facility.

· BMHS parents will park in the student parking lot adjacent to the high school gym.

· Volunteers, custodians and bus drivers will assist in directing traffic, staffing gates and moving people around campus

· All parents will exit out of the ballpark road exit point

· Ballard County EMS will control traffic

For more information, please contact Assistant Superintendent David Meinschein or Community Education Director Julie Thomas at 270-665-8400.

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