Today was my first day back at the crosswalk. It has been nice to have a summer vacation. Too bad that summer is still here but there is no more vacation! It was hot out there at the crosswalk even if it was only 7:30 in the morning!
I arrived at the elementary school to find the playground all torn up and marked off with traffic cones and ropes. The normal hard packed ground was soft and dusty making my black shoes light brown in a matter of seconds. It seems that during the vacation the city has been removing the topsoil from the playground in accordance with Japanese radiation regulations.
Ever since the nuclear power plant was destroyed in the 3/11 tsunami last year, we have had to be concerned with the radiation levels. Some of my friends keep radiation Geiger counters in their homes and check levels regularly. I know that the kindergarten where I teach in the next town over, has no longer been able to bring the children to their nature camp that is not far from my house. I see the elementary school principal checking spots around the school every morning as the school is required to send figures to the city offices every day.
Fortunately, the radiation isn't in the extremes in this area but the city officials decided that as precaution, all elementary schools, jr. high schools and kindergartens in Nikko City will have their playground topsoil removed and the playgrounds will be "re-grounded". This month it is our elementary school's turn and the tractors have removed about half an inch of ground and will BURY it at the corner of the playground. Supposedly burying solves the problem... (remind me not to put my picnic blanket over that spot when we have Sport's Day next month...) And actually, the principal is quite happy that the school will get a new playground and that this autumn's weeding and playground clean-up day (the PTA gets involved for a few hours) can be cancelled. The playground will be spic-n-span for Sport's Day in late September.
I guess nobody is going to be playing soccer for a few more weeks.
(Pictures from my cell phone.)