Large tree branch falls on Ridgefield school's play structure during recess; no injuries reported

A large tree branch fell during recess at Barlow Mountain Elementary School.

A large tree branch fell during recess at Barlow Mountain Elementary School.

Ridgefield Public Schools

RIDGEFIELD  — A large three branch fell Wednesday afternoon on a play structure at Barlow Mountain Elementary School while students were outside at recess. No one was hurt, although several students were sent home to be evaluated. It's unknown what caused the branch to fall and damage the structure.

On Thursday morning, schools Superintendent Susie Da Silva said she met with all the third grade students Wednesday and that first responders were on site within a couple of minutes after the incident. No one went to the hospital from school, she said.

"The safety of our students comes above all else. We will work with our town partners to do what we can to ensure that we are as proactive as possible," Da Silva said.

The tree branch and tree has since been removed, along with the broken structure, which was a metal playscape.

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi was on site at the school shortly after the incident, along with the town's tree warden. 

In a letter on Wednesday to third grade families, Barlow Mountain Principal Rebecca Laus wrote that at about 11:45 a.m., "a large tree branch fell on one of the play structures outside on the large playground where students were playing."

Laus wrote school medical personnel was on site to offer medical care until first responders arrived on the scene. Three students were sent home with their parents to be evaluated. Students returned to their classrooms and school staff including school psychologists shared information and offered continued support.  

"We will assess the play area for usability and safety prior to opening this section of the playground for student use. Students will continue to have access to the blacktop and field," Laus wrote. "We will work with the Town, Facilities, and Dr. DaSilva to ensure that our exterior spaces are as
safe as possible, most specifically, the Town Tree Warden who has already been on campus to assess this particular tree and other trees in the area."

She added while she's grateful no additional students or staff who were near the play structure at that time, "I also recognize that this event was quite scary for many who were there."

On Thursday, Laus said students are not permitted in the area where the branch fell until the area has been evaluated for safety. The school will get a new playscape, which was about eight years old.

On Thursday and Friday, trees in the area are being assessed and some may be removed by the end of the week and over the weekend, Laus said.