Polk parents concerned about uncovered play areas at schools

Lake Gibson Middle School is promising changes
Posted at 4:50 PM, Aug 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-22 16:50:22-04

On a day like today, when temperatures reach the mid-90's, and it feels like it's well over 100 degrees, just imagine playing outside in the middle of the day on black asphalt with no cover.

That's the condition some Polk County students are dealing with right now.

"I always feel like I'm going to pass out," says one Lake Gibson Middle school student about his time outside during Physical Education class, adding "we're limited to the water [fountain] outside. It barely works."

The concerns of parents and staff were recently brought up with the Polk County School District, and now the district is acknowledging it is a problem that needs fixing.

The district tells ABC Action News that Lake Gibson Middle School in Lakeland is now one of 6 public schools that will soon have a new pavilion, or covered space, for kids to play outside for both Phys Ed and recess. These are schools that don't currently have gymnasiums or covers for their outdoor Phys Ed classes.

Lake Gibson Middle has the added distinction of being the only school with a resurfaced asphalt Phys Ed area, making the area even hotter to play on until the surface is "sealed and painted."

Parents and family members concerned about the safety of kids during Phys Ed are encouraged to talk to the school's principal to discuss accommodations.

Polk County's School District says they are entrusting their Phys Ed coaches to decide if the conditions are too hot for kids to play outside; they can play in the school auditorium, or on a field.

Some other school districts in the Tampa Bay Area, like Pinellas County, have similar policies.