Arkansas school districts ban students from going outside during eclipse

WEST MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Some Crittenden County students are changing plans for Monday after two districts announced students were not allowed to go outside during the eclipse.

Both Marion and West Memphis school districts sent letters home to parents, explaining they did not want to take safety and legal risks involved in having students outside during the eclipse. It's expected to hit Arkansas between 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Monday.

Students like Emmy Crymes, a seventh-grade student at West Junior High School, decided to change plans.

“I called my mom and said, 'Mom I can’t watch it now!' She was like, “I'm going to check you out [of school] then because I want you to see it!'”

But other students and parents said they appreciated district officials’ concerns about safety.

“I’m okay with it because I know it can damage their vision. You don’t want them to miss out but at the same time, we have to protect our babies,” said Kristen Sampley, who has four children in West Memphis schools.

Paris Phillips, a student at West Junior High, said it made her feel "protected."

Officials said they were concerned about reports of fake glasses as well as the risk of the students wearing the glasses incorrectly. West Memphis officials referenced the legal risks involved in letting students outside.

“I guess it would be for the safety of the kids. You know you think about the kids first,” parent George Phillips said.

Instead, the districts said they’d offer classroom programming that safely shows the eclipse.

“They said they were going to let us see it on the screen,” Paris said.

Many parents said they would not keep their children out of the classroom due to the decision.

“She’ll be at school that day. I don’t think they’re going to miss out on anything,” Raeshawn Overall said.

Shelby County Schools announced this week their students would be able to view the eclipse through a variety of educational programs.