Netting traps birds in outdoor classroom, as students look for humane solution

When German teacher Windy Robinson and her sixth period class decided to do their worksheet in the outdoor classroom, they never suspected to see birds, dead from starvation, caught in the nets that the Springdale School District Maintenance Department, with the help of the National Honor Society, put up in the second nine weeks of this school year. These nets were in place to prevent birds from getting their feces all over the classroom. 

“My students pointed out this poor little bird hanging from the net,” Robinson said.“Then they saw at least two more in the corners that had gotten stuck and couldn’t get out.”

One of these students was junior Greer McAllister. Seeing the dead birds didn’t make her feel overly-emotional, but she still felt like the way they died wasn’t right.

“It was kind of weird, kind of sad,” McAllister said.”It wasn’t too depressing, but it was still kind of a big yikes.”

According to National Honor Society sponsor Charles Nokes, the nets were put up by suggestion of agriculture teacher Jonathan Roberts to prevent safety hazards. As birds got stuck, the problem only became worse. 

“A few birds have persisted in finding a gap that was left from the installation,” Nokes said. “Later some of the netting was ripped loose to get birds out which exacerbated the problem of birds getting into and on top of the netting.”

As someone who cares about the environment and nature, Robinson was shocked to see the dead birds.

“It really upset me because I love wildlife,” Robinson said. “These little birds had lives and they didn’t deserve to starve to death.”

Robinson wants to find a solution that can make the outdoor classroom a safe and sanitary place for students while also protecting the birds.

“There needs to be a humane barrier,” Robinson said. “It needs to be something that they can’t get tangled in, and that there’s no way there’s going to be holes they can get in and can’t find their way out of.”

Despite her issues with the death of these birds, Robinson doesn’t blame anyone involved. Instead she hopes they will try to find a solution that works for both the classroom and the environment as soon as possible. 

“It’s no one’s fault,” Robinson said. “It wasn’t intentional, but there definitely needs to be a solution.”

Nokes doesn’t have a solution yet, but he is contacting the maintenance department to see what can be done. Senior Brianna Crowley, the National Honor Society president, has a suggestion.

“We could make it tighter around, so that birds don’t get in at all,” Crowley said. “Or just make the netting where there’s no holes in it.”