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School playgrounds locked at night to prevent vandalism

My kid and I recently went on an evening walk to my neighborhood school, Kennedy Elementary, to take the kids to the playground there, but when we arrived the gate was locked. And that isn’t the first time we’ve been locked out this summer. What gives?

— Local dad

Well dad, the reason for that, according to Pam Thoren, Medford School District facilities administrative assistant, is that custodians at each local school lock up their respective campuses at dusk. Some schools, like Howard Elementary and Kennedy Elementary, have interior corridors that are an easy target for those with nefarious intentions.

“We have two shifts of custodians,” Thoren said. “So the night custodian, what they do mid-shift is as soon as it gets dark — that changes over time — but they do the rounds, make sure all the gates are locked and stuff like that. It helps us avoid quite a bit of vandalism.”

In general, Thoren said, school campuses were unlocked during the day all summer long, but some schools, such as Roosevelt Elementary, have been locked during the day because they serve as a day care sites.

Thoren said every campus in the Medford School District was locked up following Gov. Kate Brown’s March 17 executive order that closed all schools, but the locks came off once some of those restrictions were lifted. If there’s no school and no students on campus for any other reason, campuses — playgrounds included — should be open to the public. But that’s not to say that always happens, Thoren noted.

“Sometimes, a staff member didn’t come in that day who normally does the rounds and picks up the paraphernalia off the ground and unlocks everything,” she said. “We’ve had an incident here or there where that’s happened where they never unlocked it in the morning like they’re supposed to.”

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.