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“DCPS is closing elementary school playgrounds for its own students”

Photo by Vincent

“Dear PoPville,

We just received a letter that our elementary school is eliminating playground access for its students during the school day because of the CARE program. Is this happening at other schools? Basically, about 10 percent of the students will be in the school building taking online classes, and they will use the playground during recess, and so the playground isn’t available to the 90 percent of kids who will continue remote learning at home.

In the remote learning environment the playground is essential for elementary students.

It’s where they go to run, play, and have important social interactions with other kids their age (students and parents are VERY diligent about wearing masks on the playground). Eliminating access to the playground will be a huge blow to families that are trying to maintain their kids’ emotional and physical well-being during the pandemic. I understand that the on-site kids are the neediest in the school, but at our Title 1 school there are plenty of kids with significant needs that are in the other 90 percent. And all kids need these things anyway.

I understand that it is not possible for on-site and remote students to be on the playground at the same time. But it seems like there should be ways for these groups of students to use the playgrounds at different times of the school day. Here are several ways to do this:

Schedule different recess times for on-site and remote students, so they can each use the playground at recess.
Our school has two playgrounds. Designate one playground for on-site students and another playground for remote students.
On some days have on-site students recess in the gym so that remote students can recess on the playground.

Are other schools facing the same problem? Have there been any creative solutions so that the kids can keep going to the playground? Our neighborhood doesn’t have any other playgrounds or parks, so that’s not an option here.”

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