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School district bans game of tag to ‘ensure physical, emotional safety of students’

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UPDATE: Tag is back following outcry>>> 

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. -- Kids at the Mercer Island School District are now banned from playing the popular childhood game of tag on the playground.

Parents told Q13 Fox News in Seattle they had no idea about the ban until their kids told them. Now, moms and dads are asking why they weren’t part of the decision-making process.

“Good grief, our kids need some unstructured playtime,” said mom Kelsey Joyce.

It’s a game that practically everyone has played – but if you go to public school on Mercer Island, keep your hands to yourself.

District parents were surprised by the decision.

“I totally survived tag,” said Joyce. “I even survived red rover, believe it or not.”

“I played tag,” said mom Melissa Neher, “I survived.”

The signs outside one elementary school encourage kids to join league sports teams – but playing tag on the playground is no longer allowed during recess.

“In this day and age of childhood obesity, there’s a need for more activity,” said Neher. “Kids should be free to have spontaneous play on the playground at recess. It’s important for their learning.”

Neher has two kids in Mercer Island public schools.

She created a Facebook page to help spread the word to other parents about the ban. In less than 24 hours, hundreds of moms and dads joined to voice their concerns, mainly that the district didn’t ask parents what they thought first.

“This decision needs to be reevaluated with input from the kids and from the community,” added Neher.

Now that the ban is in place, one of Joyce’s kids no longer plays during recess.

“He has been spending most of his recesses wandering around with his friend talking about video games, which is the last thing I want him to be doing," she said.

Mercer Island School District communications director Mary Grady explained the district’s decision via email:

“The Mercer Island School District and school teams have recently revisited expectations for student behavior to address student safety. This means while at play, especially during recess and unstructured time, students are expected to keep their hands to themselves. The rationale behind this is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.

"School staffs are working with students in the classroom to ensure that there are many alternative games available at recess and during unsupervised play, so that our kids can still have fun, be with their friends, move their bodies and give their brains a break.”