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Frustrated Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

pinky

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There's a huge difference in having them in your own home with the kids you've raised and a class full of 5th graders. What will happen if there's an emergency, such as a stroke, with one of the guinea pigs during school hours? It's not uncommon to have to seek emergency treatment or deal with a sick animal when it's inconvenient. Is someone prepared to leave school and/or attend to that guinea pig and get it to an exotic vet? The other thing to consider is that guinea pigs can catch bacterial infections from humans. It's easy to keep your own kids away from the guinea pigs if they're sick but you can't shelter them from a classroom of kids who might be coughing. What the protocol if someone gets bit or scratched and it draws blood?
 

pinky

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In my opinion, it seems as though she has thought through everything possible. She is training the piggies which could also mean exposing them to children and adults alike to handle them.
She's thought about the possibility of allergies, the health of the children as well as the piggies pertaining to washing of hands.
She has talked to the principal and administration before hand. The last detail she can work on is the parents. I'm sure that when she explains it to the parents they'll be accepting of it- and if there is a parent or 2 who feel otherwise she can cross that bridge also.
As for the piggies well being- she seems to be exposing them to things/ people outside of their normal environment with caution and concern for them. I for one would love to be able to be a 5 th grader in a class that the teacher has a pet.
At my school, we have a 2nd grade teacher that has anything from spiders, frogs, hamsters, lizards, snakes -- all of which were class pets or were brought in for a time of learning for a week or so. The kids enjoyed her class, parents requested her class, she was/ is an exceptional teacher just for going above the call of teacher.
I say kudos!

A week and an entire school year are two different things. While I think a single day with an animal as part of a teaching lesson might be able to work, an extended period of time holds risks for both the animals and kids. These are living creature, not an inanimate teaching tool that's been tailored for a teaching situation. My opinion is based on being a parent, as someone who has owned guinea pigs for nearly 30 years and as a volunteer with a guinea pig rescue for about 13 years. Guinea pigs are prey animals and are very sensitive. Dogs are much more social but you don't see students bringing them to class unless they are service animals.
 

MrsATeaches5th

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There's a huge difference in having them in your own home with the kids you've raised and a class full of 5th graders. What will happen if there's an emergency, such as a stroke, with one of the guinea pigs during school hours? It's not uncommon to have to seek emergency treatment or deal with a sick animal when it's inconvenient. Is someone prepared to leave school and/or attend to that guinea pig and get it to an exotic vet? The other thing to consider is that guinea pigs can catch bacterial infections from humans. It's easy to keep your own kids away from the guinea pigs if they're sick but you can't shelter them from a classroom of kids who might be coughing. What the protocol if someone gets bit or scratched and it draws blood?

As far as the question about the piggies getting sick during the day, my question for anyone would who works would be - what if that happened to you while you are at work? How would you know? What would you do? I guess I would remove the piggie from its cage so as not to traumatize the class, and then at the end of the school day (3:10), get the critter to the vet. Luckily, teachers get off work a tad earlier than most. Under extreme circumstances we have an aid who can cover our classroom for an hour or so if we have to leave.

With regards to the last point, I would send the student to the nurse.
 

pinky

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As far as the question about the piggies getting sick during the day, my question for anyone would who works would be - what if that happened to you while you are at work? How would you know? What would you do? I guess I would remove the piggie from its cage so as not to traumatize the class, and then at the end of the school day (3:10), get the critter to the vet. Luckily, teachers get off work a tad earlier than most. Under extreme circumstances we have an aid who can cover our classroom for an hour or so if we have to leave.

With regards to the last point, I would send the student to the nurse.

I work part time and my husband comes home for lunch every day so we have that covered although I realize not everyone has the same kind of situation. As far as no one being home, though, obviously there's nothing anyone could do. That wasn't my point. What I was getting at is that a guinea pig could have a life threatening event WHILE the kids are present and that they can see. There are emergency situations that are difficult to watch, like a guinea pig having a stroke or a rectal prolapse, that require immediate attention. It's something that you have to consider and plan for, just in case. I don't think putting the guinea pig in another room would be the way to handle something like that so you'd probably have to have your aide cover for you in an emergency like that.
 

MrsATeaches5th

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I work part time and my husband comes home for lunch every day so we have that covered although I realize not everyone has the same kind of situation. As far as no one being home, though, obviously there's nothing anyone could do. That wasn't my point. What I was getting at is that a guinea pig could have a life threatening event WHILE the kids are present and that they can see. There are emergency situations that are difficult to watch, like a guinea pig having a stroke or a rectal prolapse, that require immediate attention. It's something that you have to consider and plan for, just in case. I don't think putting the guinea pig in another room would be the way to handle something like that so you'd probably have to have your aide cover for you in an emergency like that.

I guess in those situations you lead with your heart. I do not lack compassion for kids or piggies. I think I would figure it out. Again, I wanted to get concrete evidence from eerts, not "what if" scenarios.

I am am curious to know, if this year goes well, are any of you open to changing your POV?
 

wombats

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As far as the question about the piggies getting sick during the day, my question for anyone would who works would be - what if that happened to you while you are at work? How would you know? What would you do? I guess I would remove the piggie from its cage so as not to traumatize the class, and then at the end of the school day (3:10), get the critter to the vet. Luckily, teachers get off work a tad earlier than most. Under extreme circumstances we have an aid who can cover our classroom for an hour or so if we have to leave.

I do agree that you seem to have a very high level of research and planning put into having guinea pigs in your classroom, and I do understand prefering concrete evidence to "what ifs", but if you must regard any of these scenarios this is it. Pets and people get sick, and that's a fact. Instead of waiting for something horrible to happen with the health of your pigs, which is far more likely than say a fire or flood, as a responsible pet owner and teacher you must have a plan in place. You already said in the original post you will have some form of feeding/care schedule in place, yes? And I believe there was discussion to talk to your other colleagues about caring for them if you are sick as well? Then if you are clearly more than willing to set up reasonable schedules and preparations...why not set up an emergency protocol?

Instead of a "I would probably" or "I guess I would", create a concrete plan of action and discuss it in advance with your other colleagues and principal. Because even if the pigs were there for a day, a week, all year, whatever--they could have a potential health crisis no matter the time and you must be prepared to care for them as quickly and efficiently as possible. I am also sure if you were to create a plan in advance and inform your superiors, they would be more than capable of letting you leave early to care for them...plus, imagine it from their perspective. Even if you think you know what you're dIt would be dreadful to be flung into a piggy health crisis with no idea what to do or say, especially when they are not even yours and you are simply there to teach or work...it would be horrible to do that to anyone. HOWEVER, I do believe that if you establish a plan of action and act reasonably, you should be able to take care of the issue and get the situation handled before it gets worse.

Think of it like a fire drill in school. It may not be a real fire, but because everyone knows what to do beforehand, they can handle the situation as effectively as possible. And like a fire, it may never happen, but isn't it better to be prepared than not? I know you can't prepare for every little thing that could go wrong with any animal care...but this one's a given, and if you are willing to spend so much time and money and effort on these pigs and your students, you must be prepared for something like this.




I won't give much input on the ongoing classroom pet or not debate, as much of it has already been covered by others, but I do agree you have some very good plans and research in place--even if your motives are flawed, to a degree--and you can give these pigs some very good care. However, you must be prepared, no matter what.
Oh, and as a side-note--goodness forbid there is an actual fire or other emergency during the school day, set up some emergency carriers for your pigs and have them near your cages! If the cage is on a table, maybe put them under it. You can make a nice one out of extra cubes and coroplast that can be used just in case, and they're actually pretty sturdy if you use enough zip ties.
https://www.guineapigcages.com/photos/features-2faccessories/p14880-my-piggy-carrier.html
 

foggycreekcavy

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The pigs will be fine. They'll get used to the noise and such, and being alone at night. It's not an ideal situation, but you're going to do it no matter what.

I'm betting you will get pretty tired of the back and forth after awhile, though. It became a chore for me. I couldn't participate in "Friday after school activities" unless I took the animals home first.
 

AngelOma1

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I really enjoyed reading your post as it came from a different point of view, the classroom as well as the personal side. Thank you for your post and good luck...
 

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