Williamson County Schools reconsidered its protocol about playground equipment after some parents grew concerned that their kindergarten through second grade children were not allowed to use it during the first week of school.
Parents began to receive messages Wednesday from school principals announcing that the district would permit students to use the equipment such as swings, jungle gyms and slides.
Nolensville mom Lisa Robertson, who has two children who attend the first and second grades at Mill Creek Elementary School, had been sad to hear the equipment had been off limits.
“I feel that it should be a parent’s choice,” Robertson said. “If you want to be able to allow your child to play then they should honor that, but also give parents the choice to opt out if you are uncomfortable.”
Mill Creek first and second grade siblings, Libby (left) and Mabry, were happy to be back on campus on the first day of school on Friday. (Photo: Submitted)
Mill Creek Elementary Principal Julie Sparrow informed parents that elementary schools had received new guidance in an email, according to Robertson.
“Up to this point, students have been using the playground but not the equipment,” Sparrow wrote. “The new guidance allows for use of the equipment, so we will be incorporating that into our station recess plan.
“Social distancing remains part of the plan and teachers will actively monitor students during recess.”
Pearre Creek Elementary School mom Julia Byron wanted her kindergarten child to be able to run and climb.
“I saw the play area. Their designated place was a parking area, and they had to be spaced out,” Byron said. “It’s sad to see kids being adaptable, wearing masks, not going to the lunchroom, and then see another fun part of their day being taken away.”
Byron, like some other parents, reached out to school board members and WCS Superintendent Jason Golden about her concerns.
Recess at school looks different this year even with playground equipment back in the mix.
WCS is abiding by guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Tennessee Department of Health, including social distancing, which has altered the look of play time among children.
Some schools may have stations set up where play includes the playground, independent activities and games, WCS Communications Director Carol Birdsong said.
Teachers have also been provided “appropriate games for students” that meet social distancing guidelines, according to the district, such as “Rep it out! Games for social distancing” a resource from nonprofit Asphalt Green.
Robertson described a few recess guidelines that her family has experienced.
“They have to take a toy in their backpack in a gallon zip bag,” she said. “They can’t roll a ball back and forth or play with another child. They have to play with a jump rope or bring sidewalk chalk, for example, as activities by themselves. They have to stay in a square along with their class.”
Byron said she and other parents are giving the district, teachers and administrators a lot of “grace”during a difficult time.
“I’m glad they were able to reconsider that one. It showed they are willing to work with parents, and it’s a fluid situation,” she said.
Kerri Bartlett covers issues affecting children, families, education and government in Williamson County. She can be contacted at [email protected], 615-308-8324 or @keb1414 on Twitter.
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