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Haysville schools ban inflatables at events

Haysville schools will no longer allow inflatable slides or bounce houses at school functions.

The district is the second in the area to ban the popular rides following a fatal fall last month at an inflatable-amusement facility. Wichita schools decided earlier this month to ban inflatables after this school year.

A memo e-mailed to Haysville principals this week said the district "has decided to suspend the rental of inflatables for school district activities due to recommendations from our insurance company," said Liz Hames, spokeswoman for the district.

A parent-sponsored graduation party at Campus High School was supposed to include inflatable rides, but the contract will be canceled, Hames said.

"We just feel it's in the best interest of our students to not allow them anymore," she said.

The decision comes more than a month after a fall at Pure Entertainment, near Kellogg and Tyler. Five-year-old Matthew Branham died March 22 after falling from an inflatable and striking his head on a concrete floor.

Police and national safety officials are investigating the case. No charges have been filed.

Other area school districts said they had no immediate plans to ban inflatables.

Maize spokeswoman Karen McDermott said schools or booster clubs regularly rent inflatables for field days, after-proms and other events.

"We're not planning on changing any of that at this point," she said.

Keturah Austin, spokeswoman for the Andover school district, said, "We have not had any issues in the past, and we don't have plans to ban them.

"This certainly has increased our awareness, however," Austin said. "Administrators and principals have been directed to heighten supervision on these devices and just generally be aware of overall safety."

In Goddard, some principals "were considering not allowing the use of inflatables at field days. However, no action was taken" to ban them, said district spokeswoman Annette Singletary.

"Certainly we have all been made even more aware of the risks involved," she said. "We have not used inflatables on a widespread basis, and have always used the type with net walls around the inflatable" or obstacle courses that children walk or bounce through.

Rick Hill, operations manager for Celebrations Fun Equipment in Wichita, said he was sorry to hear about another ban. He hopes schools will reconsider allowing inflatables or at least make the ban specific to certain styles of interactive inflatables.

"Obviously, we'd love to be able to sit down and educate them a little on inflatable safety — choosing the right equipment, the importance of training (ride) attendants, making sure there's supervision on-site," Hill said.

"But if the decision's been made, it's been made."

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