The Wichita school district will once again allow inflatable slides, bounce houses, obstacle courses and similar rides at school events.
A memo issued to principals on Tuesday noted new guidelines for renting recreational equipment, including inflatable rides.
The move lifts a districtwide ban on inflatables, issued in April, which was prompted by a fatal fall at a local inflatable-amusement company.
"These are great types of activities that keep kids moving and active, and they're just a lot of fun," said Darren Muci, division director of operations for the Wichita district.
"When the city of Wichita felt that it could be controlled and policed, we felt we could find a way to make it work as well."
According to the new guidelines, certain inflatable rides and games still are not allowed at school functions, including King of the Hill and similar types of rides.
Five-year-old Matthew Branham and family members were using a King of the Hill ride when the boy suffered his fatal fall in March.
Other rides or activities banned from Wichita schools include dunk tanks, rides that feature water or bungee cords, and "combative" activities such as inflatable sumo wrestling or jousting.
The new guidelines also require rental companies to show copies of inspection and insurance certificates for each ride, supply trained operators to supervise rides, provide and tape down all extension cords and operate equipment according to manufacturers' recommendations.
Inflatable obstacle courses, slides and bounce houses have been popular at school carnivals and other events for many years. Some are funded by schools to reward students or celebrate accomplishments; others are financed by parent-teacher organizations or booster clubs as part of after-prom or graduation parties.
Since April, Muci said, school administrators and risk managers have "spent a lot of time watching the city of Wichita to see what steps they were going to take" regarding inspections and licensing of inflatable rides.
"If the city had banned these types of venues or events, we probably would not have re-enacted these types of opportunities," he said.
The Haysville school district also banned inflatables in April, following the Wichita boy's death and concerns about ride safety.
Spokeswoman Liz Hames said that district so far has not reconsidered its decision.
The new guidelines for Wichita schools require a separate contract be signed each time a school rents a piece of equipment, Muci said. Previously, vendors could sign one agreement that was good for an entire school year.
"This forces the vendor to stay abreast of the issues and current on their inspections and licensing," Muci said.
Rick Hill, operations manager for Celebrations Fun Equipment in Wichita, said he is glad the district lifted the ban to allow most styles of inflatables.
"They chose to limit some certain types, and... I don't have any problem with that, he said. "We're thankful. We're happy."