TORONTO - Kids at an east-end Toronto school are being told to leave their soccer balls — and other hard balls — at home.
The principal of Earl Beatty Public School banned the balls this week after a parent suffered a concussion from being hit in the head with a soccer ball.
Students can bring sponge or other soft balls to play with, but soccer balls, footballs, volleyballs and even tennis balls are not allowed for safety reasons, according to a letter sent home on Monday.
The ban has rankled some parents who say it's excessive and unfair to children who like to play outside.
Chris Stateski, who has a son in Grade 2 and a daughter in Grade 4 at the school, said he was "disgusted" to hear about the ban, which he felt was an overreaction.
"A lot of things could happen. A child could trip on the asphalt, a child could fall off the monkey bars and break their arm," said Stateski, who also has a three-year-old.
"So many things could happen. What are they going to do — cover the schoolyard in pillows and take all the doors off the hinges?"
"It's just too much."
Anna Caputo, a spokeswoman with Toronto District School Board, said Wednesday that the ban is a temporary solution, brought in as "a proactive and preventive measure."
The school has almost 350 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 8 as well as a daycare for younger children, Caputo said, adding the playground is small.
"Safety trumps," she said, explaining there had been a few injuries in recent weeks at the school, including the parent who was seriously hurt when hit with the soccer ball and had to be taken to hospital.
Stateski said Wednesday he felt bad for the woman who was hurt, but he doesn't feel the whole school should be penalized for one incident.
"Unfortunately, it was an accident and accidents do happen," he said, adding he doesn't think the playground is that small.
"I think they took this too far."
Most people commenting on online news sites and Twitter seemed to feel the same way.
"Bubbles for all kids coming soon," tweeted DocSteph.
"What's next on the ban list? Fun? Dreams? Rainbows?" asked a tweet from emmamwoolley.
Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten said she stands behind the principal's decision but thinks a balance should be found between keeping kids safe and letting them play.
"I get the idea of wanting to ensure that kids are safe. I also know that principals know the lay of the land at their schools," Broten said Wednesday.
"I feel confident that the right balance will be found and that we will see a community conversation happen with the principal, with the board and with parents at that school."
The principal will be consulting with parents and staff to find a "creative" way to deal with the problem, Caputo said. In the meantime, the school will monitor the situation on the playground.