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Everyone out for recess!

Everyone out for recess!

Editorial: Healthy reversal in Saratoga schools

One can’t help but wonder what the Saratoga Springs school board has against fresh air, sunshine and exercise.

A few years ago, it supported a ban on students of the Maple Avenue Middle School walking or riding their bikes to school, suggesting that it was too dangerous for them to access the suburban-style school, which was foolishly built on a busy state highway (Route 9) just into the town of Greenfield. After national publicity generated a firestorm of protest, the board relented, sort of: kids would be allowed to come to school under their own steam as long as they were accompanied by a parent.

Last winter, the assault on kids’ outdoor exercise pursuits continued when the school board decided that individual school principals should no longer decide when kids could safely play outside at recess. Instead, all outdoor playgrounds were closed for the winter, lest any kid get hurt falling onto the frozen ground or cushioned mats which harden when they freeze.

While most of the schools have other outdoor play areas, the Lake Avenue Elementary School does not, so the kids could only play in the gym or in classrooms during recess. This understandably upset parents, who mounted a petition drive to get the board to reconsider. This week, it wisely did — and no permission slips will apparently be required this time.

We appreciate the school board’s concern for kids’ safety, but we can’t help but wonder what kinds of bubbles its members might have grown up in: Did their parents and school leaders try to eliminate every conceivable health and safety risk for them? It’s impossible to do that, of course.

In the meantime, kids who grow up without enough quality exercise time are prone to having any number of health issues. And as Thursday’s Gazette story pointed out, studies have shown that kids who get the right amount of exercise learn better, have better social skills and are healthier. Yes, there are risks involved with exercising outdoors, but so are there with just about every activity undertaken by man, woman or child. As long as the schools don’t subject kids to unreasonable risk — letting them play in the street or forcing them outside when the temperature dips below zero — then its members can rest easy.

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