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B.C. school bans kindergarten students from touching each other at recess

Preschool children playing on playground with teacher

Kai Chiang/Getty Images/iStockphoto

How safe is too safe?

Everyone knows we live in the age of zero tolerance, but one B.C. school may have gone too far in banning kindergarten students from touching each other at recess.

CTV News reports on the recent decision by an elementary school in Langley to implement the no-touch policy. Coghlan Fundamental Elementary sent out letters outlining the hands-off rule last Friday and the new school week began with some parents bristling about the overcautious precaution.

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"I can't imagine little kids not being able to hug each other or help each other on the playground," mother Julie Chen said. "No tag, no hugging, no touching at all."

Why did the school make the new rule? The letter cites playground injuries that have come from games and other forms of hands-on play. The letter also requests that parents discuss the touching ban with their kids and encourage them to play imaginary games that don't involve fighting.

To quote directly from the letter: "We will have a zero-tolerance policy with regards to hands-on play, resulting in the missing of playtime and trips to the office for those who are unable to follow the rules."

In a follow-up interview with CTV News, school district spokesman Ken Hoff said the new rule was in response to parents complaining about rough play at recess. He added that students won't be severely penalized if they breach the no-touch policy.

"It wasn't meant to be an instantaneous situation where the hammer is just going to drop if a child touches another child," Hoff said. "I think what it was meant to convey is we are taking the issue seriously."

On a broader scale, Hoff said the strategy for Coghlan Elementary was to begin with a no-touch plan and then gradually reintroduce appropriate playground behaviour.

Regardless of the school's best intentions, some parents still feel the new rule is too extreme. "I get that kids have to have rules but at some point, where do we draw the line?" Chen said. "I am not going to tell my daughter she can't touch her friends at school. I am going to teach her boundaries."

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