Update: School district reinstates popular childhood game following outcry from parents

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UPDATE: The school district announced Friday that tag, as well as other games that were previously banned on school grounds because they involved some form of contact, are now allowed.

Here’s the release from the Mercer Island School District:

September 25, 2015 – The ‘hands-off’ policy intended for unstructured play and recess however well intended, has led to confusion, false reporting and is clearly not supported by many staff and many parents. Although the plan was focused on keeping students safe, it lacked stakeholder participation and support. The expectations for student behavior both in and out of our classrooms can be found in the published Students Rights and Responsibilities. Playground rules and expectations can also be found in each school’s handbook.

Tag as we know it and have known it is reinstated. In addition, students may continue to play “flag tag” as they wish. Other respectful games that involve appropriate physical interaction are also encouraged. Our school principals and teachers will work with our students as they imagine and develop new games for play.

Each school principal will reach out to his/her parent community and staff to determine whether or not expectations during unstructured playtime are well known and shared. If changes need to be made, stakeholder input will be sought at each school. In addition, elementary principals will seek student input and feedback on these expectations to demonstrate ownership in their learning.

Yes, we are a learning organization, too.

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. - A popular childhood game is now banned in a Washington school district.

"Good grief, our kids need some unstructured playtime," Kelsey Joyce told KCPQ.

It's a game that almost every person has played at one time or another.

However, the game of tag is now banned at the Mercer Island School District.

"I totally survived tag," Joyce said. "I even survived red rover, believe it or not."

The signs outside a district elementary school encourage students to join sports teams, but advise that playing tag on the playground is no longer allowed during recess.

"In this day and age of childhood obesity, there's a need for more activity," said Melissa Neher. "Kids should be free to have spontaneous play on the playground at recess. It's important for their learning."

Joyce says tag was one of her son's favorite activities at recess.

Since the ban, she says he no longer is active.

"He has been spending most of his recesses wandering around with his friend talking about video games, which is the last thing I want him to be doing," she said.

Mary Grady, the Mercer Island School District communications director, released a statement to KCPQ about the decision.

"The Mercer Island School District and school teams have recently revisited expectations for student behavior to address student safety. This means while at play, especially during recess and unstructured time, students are expected to keep their hands to themselves. 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."

"The decision needs to be reevaluated with input from the kids and from the community," said Neher.

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