A middle school in Long Island, New York has banned the playing of typical schoolyard games and the use of many pieces of athletic equipment during recess.
CBS reported that Weber Middle School this week "instituted a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds." The ban also includes "hard soccer balls" and "rough games of tag, or cartwheels unless supervised by a coach."
Assistant Principal Matthew Swinson explained that "sometimes when they participate in tag they use the opportunity to give an extra push."
In a press release, the school district stated that "structured athletics" with footballs and baseballs do not pose the risk of "an errant throw injuring a child." However, "unstructured play with hardballs" is dangerous and therefore impermissible. Their announcement explains that the children are confined by ongoing construction at the school, and therefore cannot be trusted with certain sports equipment. Nevertheless, the school made a specific exception for the spongy foam of Nerf balls, so that the children can safely "enjoy a 20 minute recess period."
"We know kids are going to get injured … but we have a responsibility to lessen injuries," said Swinson, explaining that the children could only be trusted with spongy balls.
CBS spoke to several students and parents who believe the case for safety is being overstated:
"Cartwheels and tag — I think it's ridiculous they are banning that," one said.
"You go for recess — that's your free time to go let loose and recharge," another said.
"That's all we want to do," a third student said. "We're in school all day sitting behind the desk learning."
"Children's safety is paramount, but at the same time, you have to let them live life," said Port Washington parent Ellen Cohen.
Among the reported blemishes are "head injuries, bumps, [and] scrapes." However, Superintendent Kathleen Maloney believes that "some of these injuries can unintentionally become very serious," and found a ban to be the only acceptable way of curtailing the violence at Weber Middle School.