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BANDON — The new equipment added to the Ocean Crest Elementary School playground offers a veritable feast for children to stretch their limbs and imaginations.

The new playground equipment was installed in the spring and opened for use on July 1. With new mandates from Gov. Kate Brown, children and adults must wear masks outdoors if they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance at all times. 

The Bandon School District has taken safety measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 even further. Each morning, the district's maintenance staff is disinfectiing the equipment using a Bromine solution and special spray cleaning apparatus. The district also asks those using the playground to wash their hands before and after use.

That said, the BSD and Ocean Crest Elementary administration, staff and students are excited and proud to have the new equipment, which the children themselves help fundraise for.

Earlier this year, the school purchased $100,000 in new play structures for the We Learn At Recess! project, thanks to grants and fundraising efforts. A $40,000 grant was received from multiple donors, including $10,000 from The Walter Lewis Schulz Memorial Fund of Oregon Community Foundation, plus a $60,000 grant was received from The Mr. and Mrs. Michael L. Keiser Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation.

Added to these generous donations is the $18,000 raised by Ocean Crest "Tiger Cubs" students at the 2019 annual Jog-a-Thon fundraiser.

The new equipment, which was added to the existing and refurbished equipment, including the iconic Castle Crest structure, is optimized for school children, ages 5-12 and preschool children, ages 2-5 with a focus on the six areas of activity: climbing, sliding, spinning, balance, upper body and swinging. 

"At Ocean Crest, we believe in the power of play as a tool for learning, knowing that students can develop not only gross motor skills, but also interpersonal and social-emotional skills while on the playground," said Principal Becky Armistead. "We remain committed to supporting our students as whole children, focusing not only on the academic needs of each child, but also on their developmentally appropriate physical and social-emotional needs. 

"Now more thann ever — as we look forward to uncertainty about our return to brick-and-mortar schooling — embracing the opportunity to work with our students and support them as whole children is a focus that remains at the forefront of our minds." 

Ocean Crest is working diligently with the Bandon School District to play for the return of the 2020-21 school year with the community's children at the heart of those discussions, Armistead added.

"We are committed to providing the very best education that our children deserve, knowing that some of the potential parameters may run counter to our philosophy on how to best meet the needs of children," Armistead said. "We continue to come together with a sense of innovation and creativity in how we can connect our Tiger Cubs and help them achieve their full potential. 

"While there may be adults wearing face masks and limited use of community spaces, such as the cafeteria and the library, we know that our students are resilient and will rebound from this difficult time."

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