Discarded needle. (Stock photo)

School responds after needle and knife allegedly found during field trip

“The students were closely supervised and when sharp objects were found, the children did not pick them up”

Original: Saturday, June 8

Vernon parents are voicing their outrage after finding out their kids were allegedly instructed to clean up garbage near Kin Beach.

After finding out the details of a planned trip to the beach on June 6, a mother of an eight-year-old grade 3 student at Okanagan Landing Elementary School took to the Vernon Rant and Rave Facebook page Saturday to share her shock.

“BIG HUGE RANT!!” she wrote. “When your child’s elementary school takes a field trip to pick up garbage at the wetlands beside Kin Beach. Now I’m all for having clean parks! Yet when my daughter tells me of a knife that was found along with her finding a needle, that’s where my rant comes in.”

Discussions around the situation ensued and about five hours after the rant was published, the post garnered over 120 reactions and 172 comments. Many agreed with the mother’s sentiments and expressed their concern.

“My daughter was on the same field trip. There was no form to sign asking if it was okay. I found out through my daughter after the fact,” wrote one commenter.

“I’m all for picking up trash, that’s okay, but seriously even adults need to be extremely careful when there [are] needles or knives, never mind children. Unacceptable,” wrote another.

She explained in the comments that while a permission slip was signed for a “day at the beach,” she had not been made aware of the garbage clean up.

“Just latex gloves were given and no permission slip was even handed out,” she told The Morning Star. “The only permission slip I got was a fun day for the kids who attended and participated in the cross-country run this year [on Monday].”

She noted that the field trip in question took place Thursday, but she was not made aware of the incident until Saturday.

“The school better be so thankful my daughter wasn’t pricked by this needle or you would have one large lawsuit on your hands!!” the concerned mother wrote in her original post. “I will be contacting the school and the district on Monday and I expect an explanation!!”

UPDATE: Tuesday, June 11

The Morning Star reached out to Okanagan Landing Elementary for comment and clarification.

“We have looked further into this situation and can confirm walking field trip permission slips were sent home to parents at the beginning of the year. Three separate notices were also included in the students’ planners with information to parents regarding this particular trip. The planners are to be signed by parents daily,” said Maritza Reilly, communications coordinator for School District 22.

She said that prior to the trip, members of the North Okanagan Wetlands Stewardship Society came into the class to present and talk about safe cleanup for our wetlands.

“Their entire presentation was on safety – not to touch anything sharp and the members had sharp object safe containers, which they showed the students. The class then walked down to the wetlands and after another reminder about what to pick up and what to ask an adult to pick up, the classes performed their wetland clean up.”

She said that the children were all provided with special gloves from the Stewardship Society.

“No child was allowed to pick up garbage if they weren’t wearing gloves and picking up garbage was strictly voluntary. The field trip was related to topics of study in the class with the main point being to raise awareness about the hazards of foreign objects to the welfare of water fowl and indigenous species,” Reilly said.

“The students were closely supervised and when sharp objects were found, the children did not pick them up; they spoke to an adult who safely disposed of the object.”

Related: Woman steps on used needle at Kin Beach

Related: Vernon hot spots cleaned of needles and garbage

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
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