ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) - A letter sent home to parents from a Zeeland elementary school seemed to outlaw tag in the kindergarten grades at least, but district leaders told 24 Hour News 8 it was all a misunderstanding.
The parent who contacted 24 Hour News 8 said his son brought a letter home from school Wednesday that said the popular recess game had been banned.
A Zeeland Public Schools official initially told 24 Hour News 8 she had to confirm that the letter was indeed from Zeeland, as the district had not heard anything about it until contacted by 24 Hour News 8. Later in the afternoon, it was confirmed that the letter had indeed been sent out by a few kindergarten teachers at New Groningen Elementary School.
According to Principal Laurie Poll, those teachers saw a problem on the playground and sent a letter home to parents trying to fix it.
The letter said, in part, that "we are going to be enforcing a 'no tag no chasing' policy for the rest of the school year." It said that the games were becoming "dangerous" and that "several children are getting hurt daily."
The kindergarten teachers sent out the letter without telling the principal or district first.
"I see a lot of their communication," Poll said. "There's 425 kids in this building and I have several -- 60 -- staff, so I don't see every note. But that doesn't mean that they don't run the major things by me. I trust them. They're professionals and things are misunderstood by people and that so we'll clarify that that's OK. We're human."
The letter also said that children caught playing tag will be punished, including recording any incidents in Infinite Campus -- Zeeland's online version of a permanent record.
That was what most concerned the parent who spoke with 24 Hour News 8, but he asked not to be identified before teachers got a chance to explain.
"We document behavior, but that's what we do, so it's not that it's on a permanent record that would do anything to a child," Poll said.
She said playing tag won't come back to haunt the students later in their education.
"It's just for the safety of the kids. [The teachers'] heart is that they wanted the kids to be safe," Poll said.
When asked if there will, in fact, be a 'no tag' policy for the rest of the year, Poll responded she didn't think that was the intent of the letter.
"It's just that right now, they're learning how to play," Poll said. "They're teaching them how to play safe. It is not that it's a no-tag policy for the rest of the year."
Another letter was sent home Thursday saying that the first letter may have been misunderstood. It said teachers modeled safe play for students Thursday at school, which "proved to be very helpful for the students."
"All students at New Groningen are expected to treat others with respect and kindness," the letter reads in part. "When negative behavior is recognized, the staff handles each situation with care and concern."
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