Whitehall District School is looking at how it can make a deteriorating play structure at Shoreline Elementary School safer and improve its procedures in providing first aid care when students are injured.
The action is a result of a mother who brought to the district’s attention the frequent injuries to young students, including her six-year-old son, Logan, who have gotten slivers from the aging wooden structure.
Barb Gimenes spoke to the district’s board of education at its meeting last Monday to express her concerns about the condition of the Kid’s Space community playground which is used by and maintained by the school district. She also passed to the board members photos of her son’s injury and the portion of the play structure on which he was injured.
The 1,500 square foot wooden play structure was built in 1994 by volunteers who raised funds to cover the $60,000 cost of materials and design work. It was built the same time Shoreline Elementary School was opened.
Gimenes’ son had a three-quarter inch long sliver of wood from the play structure enter into the palm of his hand during recess in mid-October. School employees attempted to remove the sliver in the office when he complained of the injury.
However, Gimenes said her son’s hand became red and swollen, and eventually surgery was needed to remove the sliver.
“He lost two weeks of the use of his hand,” she said.
“This is all because you did not take care of the playground,” she added.
Gimenes said she has learned that injuries from slivers is a common occurrence at the play structure.
She also expressed concern that notes are sent home to parents when a child is injured on the playground, and the same pair of tweezers are used to remove the slivers without proper sterilization. “They just use a little alcohol,” Gimenes said.
Gimenes said she briefly talked to Superintendent Jerry McDowell about the issue before Monday’s meeting. McDonald said Gimenes’ mother, Dee Achterhoff, had contacted him earlier about the issue.
“This is the first I’ve learned of the extreme nature of the incident,” McDowell told the board Monday.
The superintendent said the horizontal wooden surfaces of the playground have deteriorated over the years. He said the district has talked to a painting contractor about applying a rubberized coating over those surfaces.
“Overall, the playground is outdated,” McDowell said.
The superintendent pledged to Gimenes that the employees who deal with student injuries would get training in the treatment. If the injury is determined too severe for treatment at the office, McDowell said Central Dispatch is called to send trained medical personnel.
“The question is,” Board President Mike Sutton said “is Logan okay?” She said his hand is healing well after the surgery.