- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2015

A Seattle-area school district has banned kids from playing tag on the playground in order “to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.”

Mercer Island School District communications director Mary Grady explained the district’s decision to revisit “expectations for student behavior” and student safety.

“This means while at play, especially during recess and unstructured time, students are expected to keep their hands to themselves,” she told a local Fox affiliate. “The rationale behind this is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.

“School staffs are working with students in the classroom to ensure that there are many alternative games available at recess and during unsupervised play, so that our kids can still have fun, be with their friends, move their bodies and give their brains a break,” Ms. Grady said.

But some parents are angry that they weren’t made part of the decision-making process to ban the popular childhood game.



“Good grief, our kids need some unstructured playtime,” mom Kelsey Joyce told Fox.

“I totally survived tag,” she said. “I even survived red rover, believe it or not.”

“I played tag,” said mom Melissa Neher. “I survived.”

“This decision needs to be reevaluated with input from the kids and from the community,” said Ms. Neher. She created a Facebook page to help spread the word to other parents about the ban. In less than 24 hours, hundreds of parents joined to voice their concerns, Fox reported.

On Thursday, the school district attempted to clarify.

“We want to initiate a new form of tag-like running games to minimize the issues of ‘you were tagged/no I wasn’t’ or ‘the tag was too hard and felt more like a hit.’ Tag is not banned,” the district said in a statement on its website. “We plan to support our elementary students with new games and alternatives that still involve running and exercising.”

The school district cited “isolated incidents of unfortunate interactions that occurred on the playground where students were injured and some stemmed from games involving student contact with each other. Sometimes games during supervised, unstructured play deteriorated into name-calling, fighting and injury. Our hope has always been and continues to be an expectation that students respect others’ personal space and respect their individual and unique differences.”

The school district did not offer up alternatives for the physical contact portion of tag. The Washington Post’s Fred Barbash asked, “An ‘air-tag,’ perhaps? A tag-like gesture? A mere shout of ‘you’re it?’ How close would the existing ‘it’ have to be to the target ‘it’ before a shout of ‘you’re it’ is permitted?”

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