When Grand Island Public Schools students head out for recess this week, they’ll be able to have fun on the playgrounds.
Because of COVID-19, the playground equipment had been closed off until this week.
The district didn’t have school on Monday, so Tuesday is the first day of school this week.
As district officials “looked at additional research that comes out,” they found “there have been no confirmed cases of COVID being passed by surface touch. So that made us comfortable with opening the playgrounds,” said Jennifer Worthington, the district’s chief of strategic partnerships and stakeholder engagement.
One of those playgrounds, at West Lawn Elementary, is brand new. Two principals — both current and former — and two members of the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the playground Monday afternoon.
Attending the ceremony were current West Lawn Elementary Principal Mikhail Happ and D.W. Holley, who was the school’s principal from 2014 to 2018.
Happ said the opening is good news for both the school and the West Lawn community. He and Holley both thanked school parents for all the hard work they’ve put into the project.
Holley said the playground has been about five years in the making. It will benefit West Lawn students of today and the future, said Holley, who is now principal of Grand Island Senior High’s Academy of Technical Sciences.
Nicole Hicken, one of the parents on hand for the ribbon cutting, talked about the fundraising efforts that made the playground possible. Those efforts included school carnivals, restaurant nights, a project selling Little Caesars pizza, Fundraising University and coin wars.
The students enjoyed bringing money to school to see who would win the coin wars, Hicken said. Cash donations also were received.
The other parent present was Brenda Bykerk, who is president of the PTO and a paraeducator at the school.
The playground cost roughly $40,000, Bykerk and Hicken said. The school district paid about half of that amount.
The project would not have been possible without the parents’ hard work, Holley said. He talked about how much work the annual carnival entails, both in preparation and execution.