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Stay home! Stay! Pets shooed from schools
"From now on, you'll have to leave Fido, Fluffy and Mr. Ed at home - from classroom pets to parents with dogs, new school district policy and procedure prohibits most animals from school grounds.We've had horses at Wilkes, said Michael Schroeder, school district business and operations administrator. And people who'd rather let their dogs loose to do their business in the school yard instead of their own yard.Kids slip on it, fall in it - it's not a pleasant thought.He also cited a recent case in another district, where science students contracted botulism by handling a turtle.From hygiene to allergies to bites, the district will prohibit any animal from school property that cannot be demonstrated to have specific educational value.There are some possible exceptions, Schroeder said. We don't want to exclude animals like seeing-eye dogs. But the hamster in the cage and other classroom pets will have to go.When you have to consider bites, urine and feces problems or heating a classroom over Christmas vacation for the pet, you have to ask what's the educational value of this animal? Schroeder said. It's not like you're studying the sleeping habits of the hamster.Wilkes Elementary School Principal Liane Adamski said parents coming with their dogs to pick up children have been a problem.Though the dogs are on leashes, some snarl and snap in the presence of other dogs.We've had to intervene several times to keep dogs from inadvertently biting a child, she said.There are, however, some areas of uncertainty in the policy. Blakely counselor Maryann DeSimone sometimes brings her dog to school, and says using animals in therapy is very common.There is a serious benefit to having animals in therapy with some people, she said. It also makes a nice icebreaker, but my feeling is you have to be really careful in schools, when we're dealing with minors.DeSimone hopes to continue bringing her dog to school for theraputic purposes, but recognizes the need to be careful.We do live in a fairly litigious society, she said.Blakely Elementary School Principal Ric Jones also stressed the need to be careful. Dogs and kids are just magic, and as much as we love the animals, if we have allergy problems or health issues, we keep the kids - but the poor little critters have to go. "