While students at a Toronto school were aghast when administrators banned hard balls from their playground this week, the decision isn't a new one.

Debate on whether kids should be playing with sponge balls in lieu of harder play objects has raged on in schools across Canada and beyond.

Almost two weeks ago, a student in St. Catharines, Ont. managed to overturn his school's ban on all balls except basketballs.

Ten-year-old Mathew Taylor started a petition and arranged a meeting with the principal of Lockview Public School, the Niagara Falls Review reported. Thanks in part to his efforts, the report said balls have returned to the school's playground.

School board officials had said that the ban was put in place after several students sustained injuries on the playground.

Administrators at Earl Beatty Jr. and Sr. Public School in Toronto are also citing safety as the reason the school has banned soccer balls, footballs, volleyballs and tennis balls from the schoolyard.

"It is a school issue of safety. I am the principal, I care for the kids' safety and I have that decision making right," Principal Alicia Fernandez told CTV Toronto on Wednesday.

In a letter issued to students, Earl Beatty officials refer to incidents where students, staff or parents have been hit with a hard ball on school property. Parents have been urged to swap hard balls for softer, spongier ones in a bid to end those types of incidents.

"Any balls brought will be confiscated and may be retrieved by parents from the office," the letter said. "The only kind of ball allowed will be nerf balls or sponge balls."

Students at a school in England were also forced to kick around sponge balls after administrators barred leather footballs from the playground.

More than 300 kids at Harewood Junior School in Gloucester received the order last September when school officials said leather-style balls were causing "a number of incidents," reported U.K. newspaper The Sun.

Back in Canada, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has said he'll encourage Earl Beatty's principal to talk to parents and the community about the ban.

"We want to make sure that our kids are safe, but on the other want, we want to make sure they are active," he said on Thursday.

Jokingly, McGuinty added: "I don't think balls are registered weapons, last time I checked. I'm sure we're going to find a way forward and that balls will soon be back in that school."