Archive for Friday, August 18, 2017

Eudora schools cancel eclipse-viewing plans amid concerns of unsafe glasses; price tag for replacements about $10K

Cardboard frames for solar eclipse glasses are stacked in the American Paper Optics factory in Bartlett, Tenn., on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

Cardboard frames for solar eclipse glasses are stacked in the American Paper Optics factory in Bartlett, Tenn., on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

August 18, 2017, 1:37 p.m. Updated August 18, 2017, 3:38 p.m.


The Eudora school district is rethinking eclipse-viewing activities for Monday after discovering that the special glasses purchased for students and employees aren’t considered safe to use.

According to a news release published on the district’s website, Eudora Schools leaders learned late Thursday night that the glasses purchased earlier this summer by the Eudora Schools Foundation and the Eudora Elementary PTO resembled the counterfeit glasses described in recent media reports. Leaders from each organization conducted “extensive research and inspection,” the news release said, but were ultimately unable to verify the safety of the glasses.

“This has been very disappointing news for everyone,” Superintendent Steve Splichal said in a statement. “But the safety of our students and employees is always the top priority in our schools. If we cannot confirm that these glasses will provide adequate protection, we won’t risk that someone’s eyesight is damaged while using them.”

Splichal, who has shared a link to NASA’s livestreaming of the eclipse with school staff, also said he is confident alternative eclipse-related activities will make an enjoyable educational experience for students.

Kristin Magette, the district’s director of communications, said the glasses were purchased through Amazon, although she declined to name the specific seller. Eudora Schools Foundation and Eudora Elementary PTO members bought the counterfeit glasses months ago, Magette said, under the impression that they were made by American Paper Optics, one of four companies recommended by NASA as reputable eclipse glasses manufacturers.

After viewing a cautionary image of counterfeit APO shades on the company’s website, district, PTO and Eudora Schools Foundation leaders realized their purchases didn’t match the round lenses and narrow temples of legitimate APO glasses.

American Paper Optics is urging customers to look out for counterfeit versions of their NASA-approved glasses. Fake APO products have boxier, less rounded lenses — and wider, more circular temples — compared with their real counterparts.

“It’s frustrating that you do something in such good faith and well in advance,” Magette said of efforts by the Eudora School Foundation and PTO members. “They made a really generous gesture and helped us do something that we couldn’t have done on our own, and for them to then find out that they got scammed, it just stinks.”

Staff members were notified of the glasses’ questionable safety Friday morning, the district’s news release said, and have begun working to adapt Monday’s eclipse activities. Originally, the plan for many Eudora educators involved going outside to view the eclipse with students.

Employees have since been instructed to destroy or turn in any glasses provided through the schools.

“We are very grateful to the generosity of the PTO and Foundation for purchasing these glasses in the first place,” Splichal said in the news release. “They did nothing wrong when they made their purchases, and they’ve been invaluable collaborators as we have had to make this disappointing decision.”

Roughly $700 was spent on the 2,000-some counterfeit glasses meant for the entire district’s staff and student population, Magette estimated, several months ago when prices were considerably lower. Magette expects an effort will be made at some point to get a refund for the purchase. Right now, however, attentions are mostly focused on replanning learning activities and “turning over rocks” in search of legitimate glasses.

The district also considered purchasing safe replacements, Magette said, but is leery of the approximate $10,000 price tag (due to recent changes in supply and demand) associated with such a large order only days before the eclipse.

“What it came down to is we asked ourselves, ‘Is that the best investment for a lot of money for a very short period of time when we have no guarantee of the weather, either?'” Magette said, later adding, “When you have a budget, you have a budget, and you have to be realistic about what you want to spend it on.”

But Magette, who said she spent a lengthy portion of Friday fielding calls from parents, said she’s been encouraged by the good Samaritans who have offered to purchase for students whatever small numbers of eclipse glasses they can get their hands on. And fortunately for the district, families seem mostly accepting of Friday’s disappointing news and the administration’s decision to err on the side of caution, she said.

“People have been really, really generous to help us solve this problem, and we’re working on a couple possibilities that may or may not pan out,” Magette said. “But at this point we’re really focused on making sure that the indoor activities are as good as they can possibly be and that parents whose kids are in school feel like their child did not miss out.”

If it rains Monday, we might all be missing out on a perfect eclipse-viewing experience. The National Weather Service on Friday afternoon predicted a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in both Lawrence and Eudora the day of the eclipse.


Tristan Moody 10 months, 1 week ago

Oh for goodness sake people!

There are ways to observe an eclipse without these glasses -- people have been doing it for decades.

  1. Use binoculars to project an image of the sun onto a white surface like in this:

  2. Use a cardboard box and a nail to make a pinhole projector like in this:

  3. Stand underneath a tree and look at its shadow like in this:

People have been going out of their minds over these stupid glasses to the point where it seems like this is the only way people think you can observe the eclipse. So what if you got bogus glasses, don't cancel the event when these easy alternatives exist!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 months, 1 week ago

As a retired teacher, I wouldn't have wanted to be responsible for making sure that 20 students didn't remove their glasses. I think the schools should just close, so the parents can be responsible whether or not their kids damage their eyes. We are taking our granddaughter out of school to go the Benedictine college for their event.

Laura Hilton 10 months, 1 week ago

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Elizabeth Halsey 10 months, 1 week ago

Has USD497 verified the authenticity and safety of their glasses?

Bob Summers 10 months, 1 week ago

Why are government inculcation centers making a big deal out of this? There is nothing to see.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 months, 1 week ago

Peter, it is something that "Bob" does not comprehend.....he cannot blame it on his "congenial liberals" Not his cup of tea.

Tony Holladay 10 months, 1 week ago

When I was in grade school in the early seventies, we used a shoe box with a hole poked in it. As said above there are several ways to view the eclipse. Teach these kids there are more ways than one to do something!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 months, 1 week ago

So if one student takes their glasses off while a teacher is helping another student and damages their eyes, who will get blamed? Right. The teacher and the school will get sued by the parents. How many kids have you ever supervised at one time? How many have special needs? How many dare devils ornery enough to do something, seemingly small like taking off their glasses? Oh right. You went to elementary school, so you are an expert.

And if you did briefly look at the sun while it was in full totality you were okay. It's before and after when it's dangerous. Of course, eye doctors and scientists and other specialists don't know what they are talking about, right?

Who takes care of your teeth? Your plumber?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 months ago

Obviously you have never taught, have you? Again how many children have you ever been in charge of for any period of time? Birthday parties don't count especially if the other parents are present.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 months, 1 week ago

You know.....this ruckus about the "eclipse" is a lot of baloney. I have seen one....there is nothing much to see (unless you want to damage your eyesight for the rest of your lives)

It gets progressively dark, just like night.....for a minute or so depending where you live in the path of the shadow. Then it gets light again, the confused street lights turn off,,,,,and it is gone.

That is pretty much it.......

The hysteria about this cosmic event sort of reminds me of the considerable flap and falsehoods of the "Y2K" thing a few years ago.

We live in a Universe that is might want to learn about it sometime.

Check out the "Science Channel" if you get it.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 months, 1 week ago

Science is why I want my granddaughter to experience it, and to learn about why it happens. Of course, all that baloney about the world ending and it's a curse is pushed by a bunch of science deniers.

Clark Coan 10 months, 1 week ago

The stars will come out and the animals will go crazy. The temperature will drop 4-5 degrees. This is in the 100% total eclipse zone.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 10 months, 1 week ago

Pin Hole Camera, Binoculars to focus image on white paper and welding goggles or full welding hood are all good options.

Ken Lassman 10 months, 1 week ago

I took an old umbrella, heated up a nail (holding the nail with a pair of vice grips, of course) and poked 20 some holes in it and it projects a bunch of fine images of the sun onto the ground, or onto anyone who is laying/standing in the shadow of the umbrella--lots of fun as the images go from round dots to increasingly slender crescents and back!

Another idea: find a nice line drawing of something you like, or a pattern of a mandala, and go along the lines with a thumb tack, poking holes thru the paper along the lines. Take it outside during the eclipse and in the shadow of the paper you'll get a beautiful image of crescent suns in the pattern of whatever drawing/pattern you made with the holes.

Be creative, folks!

Jeremy Smith 10 months ago

And liberals want to give more money to these schools? This is the short sighted, reckless spending, that we have been fighting about for years. Schools have too much money and so they recklessly go buy items such as these glasses without even verifying their authenticity. These are the people in charge of our kids? What if they did not know these glasses were bad and all of these kids burned their retina's? Is it so hard to do a little research before big purchases?

Nick Naidenov 10 months ago

They're so easy to test if they're real. I don't understand these "concerns" it's either yes or no.

Ken Lassman 10 months ago

Actually, I thought the same: hold up a legitimate pair and look at the sun; then hold up the glasses in question and see if the sun is dimmed the same amount. That would probably work just fine for you and me, but when you're talking about 2000 kids' eyes, perhaps something a bit more objective would be in order.

I wonder if there is a spectrophotometer in the Eudora high school that could test the spectral transmissivity of the glasses? It'd be a cool project for some students or teachers to do if they knew what they were doing, which might be asking a bit much on such short notice. There will be other solar eclipses, all partial (which this one is, too, from Eudora), so even if they couldn't do it in time for Monday's eclipse, they could still do it and save the glasses for another day if they pass muster.

And if Eudora couldn't do it, some other high school in the area might be able to; certainly someone at KU could do it.

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