Anderon Public School forced to shut down playground

By Joel Charron

The Anderdon Public School Parent Council received a shocking surprised when they met on Monday, September 26.

After an investigation done by an outside agency, of the school’s playground equipment  it was deemed unsafe including basketball rims and would be removed in the next several weeks.

Play Check Services Inc. completed the investigation at the request of the school.

Anderson Public School principal Diane Beck said she was “glad” that the board went through with the investigation because she was concerned about a “couple of things” involving the playground equipment.

“We were all taken by surprise by this,” said Anderdon Parent Council president Julie Russell. “The kids had been playing on the equipment right up until the prior Friday and the meeting was Monday night.”

Beck said the Play Check Services Inc. report was a “very Comprehensive report”

“Right now all eight playground structures are not in compliance with safety standard,” explained Beck. “Some of them have major compliance issues and some could be fixed but we don’t know what the cost would be for that yet.”

The playground is usually off limits to the students beginning in November, however Beck said she has closed the playground a month early to ensure no students get injured.

“I have to make sure everyone is safe,” said Beck. “My top priority is the safety of the kids at Anderdon, if our playground equipment is not meeting the standards by all means I do not want our kids to get seriously hurt on any equipment.”

Although, Beck said she had safety suspiciounsons on some of the structures, she was “very surprised” to learn that all of the structures had issues. Under the old standard Anderdon’s playground equipment would have passed, however the safety standards have grown stricter.

Beck noted that there are several other schools in the area that have had reports notifying them of issues that have forced them to close down some or all playground equipment.

“We’re not the only school in the area that this is happening to,” she said.

Russell said the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDB) said it would be up to the Parent Council to raise funds for new equipment.

“It will be our (Parent Council) responsibility to raise money to replace and install this equipment,” said Russell. “That’s quite the ominous task.”

One piece of playground equipment can cost up to approximately $10,000.   Russell estimates Parent Council will have to raise nearly $100,000 in order to replace all of the equipment that will be removed in the following weeks.

“This may be a 10 year project to try to recuperate the lost of that equipment,” said Russell.

The students are outside on the playground for an hour and a half every day, weather permitting,    and while Anderson Public does supply the students with things such as soccer balls and skipping ropes, Russell points out that

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not every student wants to play soccer during recess.

“There are so many personalities and kids that some kids don’t want to play soccer, some kids just want to swing on the swings,” she said.

Russell said she has no problem with the GECDB condemning the equipment as unsafe, however she noted they have done so without a contingency plan in place.

‘The board should have some suggestions or a contingency plan in place for what to do with the kids,” explained Russell.

According to Beck, the students do have an “outdoor classroom area” where students can bring out schoolwork and complete it on picnic tables. They also have “Mustang Grove,” which is a place where students can sit and talk amongst each other.

“Thanks to Parent Council we’ve added a couple of four-square games and we are working toward getting more basketball hoops,” said Beck.

Beck said she plans on meeting with Rick Emery, Head of facility Services to go thought the entire report and decide whether or not some of the playground equipment can be repaired.

“If it’s small items that we can fix, then great we’ll fix it,” said Beck.

GECDB trustee Helga Bailey declined to comment until she knew more details of the issue.

All calls to Rick Emery went unaswered.

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