Recess at a Springfield, Missouri elementary school turned chaotic on Tuesday afternoon when 21 people – including 18 students and three teachers – were injured after a pair of dogs entered the playground and sparked a melee.
Most of the injuries occurred from people tripping and falling as they tried to run away from the animals and seek shelter in the school, Willard Intermediate School-South, district officials said.
But at least six people required medical attention from bites and scratches, including students and teachers who were taken to area hospitals for treatment.
Heather Harman-Michael, director of communications and public relations, for the Willard School District said the exact injuries and some other details are still being sorted out. The breed of the dogs was not immediately known.
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Incident occurred on unfenced playground
The incident occurred during the afternoon recess at the intermediate school, which serves students in grades 5 and 6, and the dogs were from the neighborhood. It occurred shortly after 1 p.m.
The school’s playground is not fenced, Harman-Michael said.
The district said school employees, school police officers, emergency first-responders, and Greene County Animal Control responded to the scene.
“We had district administration and we had nurses and counselors from other buildings come to Intermediate South to be of assistance,” Harman-Michael said.
The animal control officers responded “within 10 minutes” and were able to locate the dogs and their owner, who voluntarily surrendered them.
“That’s going to be part of the investigation, including what types of dogs they are,” she said.
Harman-Michael said it was a chaotic scene and in addition to the 21 individuals who were suffered the range of different injuries, other students were on the playground and watched the incident unfold.
The Intermediate South building will have indoor recess on Wednesday, the final day of class before the winter break, and counselors will be available for any student who wants to talk.
“We’ll have a separate, designated area for counselors so any student who feels like they want to process what they saw or went through, or just want to talk through some of that, can go chat with the counselors,” she said.
Claudette Riley covers education for the News-Leader. Email tips and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.