The sandbox may soon be a thing of the past in Israeli school playgrounds. The Education Ministry believes that sandboxes may be responsible for many of the allergies and rashes Israeli children come down with – and the Knesset Committee for the Rights of Children, headed by MK Yifat Shasha-Biton (Kulanu) has placed restrictions on the use of sandboxes in schools. Under the new rules, sandboxes must be closed up with a tight enclosure at the end of the school day. At the beginning of the day, they must be cleaned out, with all foreign and sharp objects removed.
Sand will be changed annually, at the beginning of the school year, under the new rules. If waste from animals or other potentially hazardous material is found, the sandbox will be closed until the sand is removed and replaced. Children with open wounds or skin lesions will be banned from the sandbox. In addition, all children who play in the sandbox must wash their hands when they finish.
During a Committee discussion of the issue, it emerged that there are only 12 safety and health inspectors for the 22,000 kindergartens in Israel. The inspectors report on problems to the Education Ministry, which informs the local authority where the kindergarten is located to fix the problem.
This is not the first time the Committee has discussed the sandbox issue, and Shasha-Bitton said that it might be best for some kindergartens to replace the sandbox with other facilities. “These sandboxes continue to be a source of serious health problems. A kindergarten that cannot properly maintain a sandbox should find an alternative,” she said.