Students at Port Washington's middle school are restricted to using Nerf balls during a 20-minute recess period because they are playing in limited space while a construction project is underway, the school district said Tuesday.

The district posted a statement on its website, explaining the restriction was made for children's safety, after news reports circulated Monday that Weber Middle School students were banned from using hard balls or playing tag during recess.

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Superintendent Kathleen Mooney's office referred a reporter to the district's statement.

The district is nearing the end of a construction project at the middle school, the statement said, and because of the project, "there is limited space for the students to enjoy a 20-minute recess period."

With children so near one another, "it is not safe for them to be engaged in unstructured play with hard balls," the statement said. "Absent the confined space within which recess must temporarily be held, such restrictions would not be necessary."

The district reported that middle school students still are able to participate in structured activities with hard balls during gym and intramural athletics.