5000 elementary schools across America are searching for a safe way to offer recess during the Pandemic.
Peaceful Playgrounds designer, Dr. Bossenmeyer reveals how to do it.
Webb City, Missouri., May 29,2020 (SEND2PRESSNEWSWIRE) A pandemic recess solution is being released by Peaceful Playgrounds Inc. A 6’ Distancing Playground, the brainchild of award-winning educator and playground designer, Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer, is an answer sure to thrill millions of children as they return to school in the fall. Why? Dr. Bossenmeyer has saved recess! While some educators assume that a 6’ distancing requirement will eliminate recess altogether, Dr. Bossenmeyer thinks otherwise.
Dr. Bossenmeyer, a longtime teacher and principal from Southern California, asked: “Why should we eliminate recess from the school day?” With some paint and planning, she maintains that “recess can still be safe”. She knows a little about school safety and recess. Her Peaceful Playgrounds Program has been shown to reduce injuries, bullying, conflicts in more than 8,000 schools across the nation over the past 20 years. Play structures are not part of her pandemic playground plan. Following CDC recess recommendations during Covid-19 she recommends recess area by class in activity zones.
Drawing on her strong background in playground safety and design, Dr. Bossenmeyer created a 6’ Social Distancing Playground. She has created a series of Activity Zones with age-appropriate games and learning activities to be painted on existing playground surfaces using blueprints, and prefabricated stencils. QR codes can be scanned with smart phones or smart tablets for video instructions on all the games and activities which inform teachers teaching the activities.
The 6’ Distancing Playground consists of 4 parameters to maintain social distancing, while still affording playground and recess activity for the kids:
- Activity Zones Painted on the Asphalt – The first object was to regulate movement but still allow children to move and burn off some steam. As a result, game courts are painted with painted dots and boxes to indicate waiting lines and to maintain suggested social distancing.
- Limited Equipment – To avoid spreading the virus with playground equipment such as red playground balls or playground structures, the 6’ Social Distancing Playground is designed with age appropriate challenges and limited equipment which is not shared. An example of equipment used in the Social Distancing Playground is a plastic water bottle the children bring from home to play a bottle toss game. Schools have no need to sanitize school equipment and utilization of play structures is not recommended.
- Dots Mark the Spot- Each student must stand on a dot which indicates their spot in line, and it restricts movement but still allows movement while maintaining a 6’ spacing between students and activities. No one should be wandering aimlessly around the playground. They select one activity zone by classroom and remain there for the duration of the recess period. (*CDC Guideline for recess during covid-19 outbreak.)
- Maintaining Control and Organized Supervision – A freeze bell is recommended. Student freeze at the bell ending recess and wait to be dismissed by each Activity Zone utilizing Designated Walkways to avoid crowding when lining up to exit the playground. As with all recess conducted, Social Distancing guidelines requires supervision from School Staff. Staggered recess periods are recommended which is also a CDC guideline.
In 1995, then Principal Melinda Bossenmeyer put the first Peaceful Playgrounds program into practice at an elementary school in Southern California. The concept was an overnight success and brought accolades and recognition. In 1999, Dr. Bossenmeyer’s elementary school was honored with the State of California’s Golden Bell Award in the Student-Safety Category from the California School Boards Association.
“With the Covid-19 lockdowns and children sheltering in place”, Dr. Bossenmeyer said it is “inconceivable that young children be further confined at school sites when school resumes this fall.” She maintains that with a little paint and planning, children can resume recess while maintaining social distancing.
Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer