By Terry Dean
Scrapes, bumps and minor bruises are the extent of head injuries suffered by students at District 97 schools, according to injury data compiled by the elementary school district.
The data was put together in response to a report from a group of Irving parents last spring of head injury rates at the eight elementary schools. The report was compiled following a Freedom of Information Act request filed by parents with the district. The parents looked to gather injury data, which came from school nurses, as part of their Irving Schoolyard Project. They presented their findings to administrators and the school board in May.
Supt. Albert Roberts at the time said that the district would also investigate head injuries occurring in the buildings. The district's findings show that 106 head injuries took place last year, categorized as either "major" or "minor."
Major injuries are those that require further medical evaluation by a health care provider while minor injuries are those resulting in, for instance, swelling. The vast majority of injuries last year, according to the district, were in the minor category. Only six head injuries fell under the major category.
Roberts says one injury to a child is too many but noted that most of the injuries kids face in the district are minor ones. Roberts noted that with a roughly 5,800 student body, the district's data indicates that the majority of kids are not suffering head injuries of any kind.
The district recorded injuries in high concentration areas such as gyms, playgrounds and lunch rooms, although no injuries appeared to occur in the cafeterias, according to the district's findings.
The Irving parents last spring showed that their school, located at 1125 S. Cuyler, had the highest rates of head injuries among the eight elementary schools. Based on the rate of head injury per 100 students at the eight schools, Irving showed a rate of 7.5 head injuries. Those injuries mostly occurred on Irving's massive, asphalt outdoor surface. The Irving PTO has been working for several years to remove the blacktop and replace it with green space.
D97's injury data aligns closely with the parents' findings. The district found that Longfellow School, 715 S. Highland, had the most head injuries on their playground, with Irving following just behind. These injuries, however, fell into the minor category. Longfellow's playfield is also known for its hazardous surface and this summer will receive a major renovation to level off the field, among other fixes.
D97 seems poised to approve a plan to renovate Irving's blacktop this summer and replace it with a soccer field and new playground, with only a portion of the asphalt to remain.
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