You're it: School district cancels ban on tag following outcry

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. -- Tag, the classic children's game, is back at Mercer Island's elementary schools.

The Mercer Island 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, is now allowed.

"Tag as we know it and have known it is reinstated," district officials said in a statement.

The question of whether or not tag should be allowed at Mercer Island Schools became a contentious one after Q13 FOX News published a report earlier this week that the game was banned from school grounds.  Many parents didn't know the game was not allowed at Mercer Island's three elementary schools, and scoffed at the district's hands off policy.

“Good grief, our kids need some unstructured playtime,” said mom Kelsey Joyce. "I totally survived tag. I even survived Red Rover, believe it or not."

Signs spotted earlier this week outside one elementary school encouraged kids to join league sports teams – but playing tag on the playground was not allowed during recess.

Mercer Island School District Communications Director Mary Grady explained the district’s decision via email:

“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."

However, after much outcry from parents both in and out of the district, school officials decided to allow the game once again.

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.

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