It is the policy of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, Mount Anthony Union School District, North Bennington Graded School District, Pownal School District, Shaftsbury School District, and Woodford School District to permit live animal in the classroom under appropriate conditions.
The purpose of this policy is to acknowledge the educational value of animals, provide guidelines for keeping and the humane handling of animals on school property and to promote safety for faculty and students when animals are brought into the classroom.
Other than service animals, live animals in the classroom must provide educational value to the classroom.
Principals, or their designee, must be consulted and give approval prior to the inclusion of a live animal in the classroom and the use of animals in the classroom is to be permitted subject to administrative regulations concerning handling, care and responsibility. The humane care of the animal(s), including weekends, vacations, and holidays, is the responsibility of the classroom teacher.
Wild and domestic animals, wolf-hybrids, farm animals and poisonous animals (including spiders, venomous insects and snakes), reptiles and lizards may be used for their educational value as long as they are safely contained and handled by persons knowledgeable in their care.
Guide, hearing, other service dogs or law enforcement dogs may be allowed in school or on school grounds with proof of current rabies vaccination. Service animals are the responsibility of the handler.
Certain conditions require special review and approval prior to being allowed in the school environment.
Where the animal constitutes a health risk or a student or staff member suffers from an allergy that is aggravated by the presence of that animal, the animal may not be allowed in the classroom.
Animals susceptible to rabies or other zoonotic diseases (those which can be transmitted from animals to people) must be shown to be vaccinated or proven to have sufficient disease free history to be deemed healthy.
Suggested Administrative Regulation
Each school Principal will determine whether an animal is allowed or prohibited.
Any animal that is allowed in the school or on school grounds must be clean and healthy so that the risk of their transmitting disease to students and teachers is minimal. Any education with animals should also be used to re-emphasize proper hygiene and hand washing recommendations.
No animals should be allowed in food preparation areas at any time. Food handlers should not be responsible for clean-up of animal wastes, and cages and tanks should not be cleaned in food handling areas.
Animal cages or tanks should be cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis. Students should not be allowed to handle or clean up any form of animal waste (feces, urine, blood, etc.) and wastes should be disposed of in a plastic bag or container with a lid. Anyone who cleans a cage or tank should wash their hands immediately after completing the task.
Children with allergies or those with immune deficiencies may be especially susceptible to diseases transmitted by animals or allergic reactions; therefore special precautions may be needed to minimize risks. Consultation with the school nurse and the child’s parents about precautionary measures is strongly advised.
Children should not be allowed to “kiss” these animals and should not be allowed to handle or cleanup any form of animals waste or clean the animal’s cage. Anyone handling such animals should wash their hands thoroughly, immediately following contact.
Types of information to be reviewed with students prior to animal being brought into the classroom.
Birds - Psittacosis is a serious disease that infected birds can transmit to humans. Even birds that appear healthy can be carriers of this disease. Because of the risk of psittacosis, birds (especially parrots, parakeets, macaws, pigeons, doves, etc.) should not be handled by children and should never be allowed to fly free in the classroom.
Reptiles and Amphibians - Reptiles (iguanas, snakes, lizards and turtles) and amphibians (frogs, salamanders and toads) can spread salmonella to humans, resulting in diarrhea and fever. This disease can be life-threatening in very young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. These animals should not be handled by children, pregnant women or individuals with infants at home. Anyone handling a reptile or amphibian should wash their hands thoroughly, immediately following contact.
Chicks and Ducks - Chicks and ducks can spread salmonella to humans. This disease can be life-threatening in very young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. These animals should not be handled by children, pregnant women or individuals with infants at home. Anyone handling chicks or ducks should wash their hands thoroughly, immediately following contact.
Guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits - Healthy guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and rabbits pose a limited health risk. Such animals may be allowed as classroom pets or as occasional visitors with advance notification to the principal and teacher and under the strict supervision of an adult. Even tame animals may react aggressively in strange situations; therefore, student contact with animals should always be closely supervised and animals should not be allowed to run loose in the classroom.
Fish - Fish pose a very limited health risk and may be allowed in the classroom. Disposable gloves should be worn when cleaning aquariums and tank water should not be disposed of in sinks that are used for food preparation or drinking water.