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Fence will go up around school playground where boy disappeared, school board says

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Hall Woodward Elementary Missing Student

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Tricia McManus speaks during an Oct. 4 press conference to address a missing student at Hall-Woodward Elementary School in Winston-Salem.

A fence soon will be installed around the perimeter of an elementary school playground from which a boy wandered away last week.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education unanimously approved spending about $44,000 from the school district’s savings to build the fence around the playground at Hall-Woodward Elementary School, 125 Nicholson Road.

A 7-year-old boy with special needs wandered into the woods that backs up to the playground last week and went missing for three hours. He was found unharmed, but his mother said he will not return to the school.

The boy’s disappearance prompted Superintendent Tricia McManus to ask district leaders to look at the playgrounds of the elementary schools, particularly those with special-needs students in self-contained classrooms.

The school district is talking to principals and gathering data about the playgrounds.

Some elementary schools in the school district have fences; others do not.

Fences may not go up at all schools, McManus said. The layout of a school may be such that a fence is not needed or is a low-priority.

In the case of Hall-Woodward, an open play area abuts several acres of woods, some of which lead to Salem Lake. It’s the kind of layout that McManus wants to address.

“It will be case by case,” she said. “This is not one-size fits all.”

Schools with self-contained classrooms, where students may be likely to run from campus, will get high priority, McManus said.

The school district also is looking at its safety and supervision protocols for school staff.

Hall-Woodward administration is working with staff to retrain them on all safety plans and on active supervision protocols, especially as it relates to students with special needs, the school district said last week.

336-727-7420

@lisaodonnellWSJ

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