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No more piggies for my kindergarten!

NewPiggyLover

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I am so incredibly frustrated! Today my principal came in and informed me that as of next school year she will no longer be allowing teachers to bring in pets with fur/hair. She wanted to be give me a heads up because of my two little ones and to warn the other Kindergarten teacher because of her gerbil. Our principal is a new administrator and so worried about liability that she has cut and/or cancelled many worthwhile trips, projects and endeavours. This is just one more thing to make it to the chopping block. I have always understood that should a child with allergies come into my class the piggies would have to go. This is board policy. A statement that no pets are allowed in the school is a principal's decision - one she has the right to be make, but not one that I feel is in the best interest of the children.

I recognize that some people here are not in favour of guinea pigs being kept as classroom pets. My arguement has always been and will continue to be that I am an excellent care-giver. I take extreme care when travelling with them, which is frequently so that they are never alone for long periods of time. They have huge cages both at home and at school (I have a very large classroom with a whole area dedicated to the piggies!). The children are never allowed to feed or play with them unsupervised. I have done unit studies on our guinea pigs - we read stories, wrote about them and their care, had them taste test their favourite fruits and veggies, even designed cages for them! I have Grade 3 helpers who come down every day to help me take care of them and they have learned a lot too.

I teach in a neighbourhood where very few children have pets. This is both for financial and cultural/ethnic background reasons. Having pets, and adorable piggies in particular, has been a wonderful learning opportunity for the children in my class. They have learned so much from all their experiences with them!!! When I spoke my mind that I felt this was a wrong decision, I was told that children can go to the zoo if they want to see animals!!! GRRR!!! It was so maddening. Guinea pigs are domestic animals - PETS - not zoo animals. Going to a zoo WILL NOT teach the children the basics of animal care that having a classroom pet will.

Well, I just wanted to vent so thanks for hearing me out. I will just have to find some way to bring some of experiences back to the kids without the piggies actually being there. Set up a pet corner maybe with new pictures all the time and books! I am still allowed to keep my class fish. (I am supposed to feel lucky that she is allowing that!) It won't teach the children to keep their voices down when around something smaller than them, to pet animal fur gently in the direction it grows, that pets need to be cleaned and fed and watered every day, that we do not feed guinea pigs playdough....

Any suggestions or ideas that anyone has would be appreciated.

Oh, and please don't worry about the piggies - they'll be fine here at home and will probably be glad that they no longer need to commute to 'work'! I am piggy lover through and through, I just really wanted to share (and keep sharing) that passion with the children I teach. I'd like to think that someday some of them will grow up and become responsible pet owners themselves.
 

Slap Maxwell

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I think that what you did was great- esspecaily in that siduation. Did you bring the pigs home with you at night?

Maybe you could adopt (definetily adopt) a pair of baldwins! No hair!
 

Marlania

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NewPiggyLover said:
Set up a pet corner maybe with new pictures all the time and books!

Before I moved, I did education programs at elementary schools and local libraries. Somewhere along the line, my rescue group acquired coloring books and other materials that an insurance company donated to them. The company had the coloring books printed and focused on responsible pet ownership and stuff along those lines. Maybe you could find something like that?? Perhaps have some kind of worksheets about animals to give to students while waiting for others to finish tests. Those are just a couple of things that popped into my head.
 

zakfoxmom

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My son's daycare won't allow any animals with fur in their building. They are only allowed to have fish.
 

guineagurl

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"that we do not feed guinea pigs playdough...."
What a crack up! My kids are allways sneaking toys into the cage!
 

Lyndsay

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NewPiggyLover, what you do is amasing!!! That is unbelievably clever to teach kids a mulitide of things. Most children can't have a real pet that they can care for due to allergies in the family, and family income. I believe that you should bring your argument to the school board, and type out something similar as to what you posted here. People need to realise what good these animals are to teaching young children. If you allow the higher up people to see what you are doing, and the reasons, they might start paying more attention to what is happening, and do something about the cut off of the outings, and such. Please keep on informing us on what happens in the long run. Best of luck to your awsome cause!
 

widallas

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It's such a rare thing in education that kids kid to apply learning to things they really care about. I admire the way that you used the cavies to teach on so many levels, and that you kept their care at the top of your priority list. I agree with Lyndsay that you might want to take up the issue with the board -- IF you have parental support. (If you had been my kids' teacher, I would be there for you!) I hope it goes well, and if it doesn't )in terms of the gp's at least) you should feel really pleased that you had them add so much to you classroom while they did. GOOD LUCK!
 

Access

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I don't know what your country / local laws are, but maybe you have similar ones... Would the policy as writen restrict companion animals or "helper" animals like seeing eye dogs or trained 'helper' dogs for people with cerebral palsy or who are confined to a wheelchair? If so, the policy may be illegal and you may be able to get it overturned in full on those grounds -- as most public institutions must conform to different 'people with disabilities' acts (here it is called the "Americans with Disabilities act"). Likewise you can claim that the cavy is a companion animal that provides vital emotional support, similar to the way a "helper" dog provides vital physical support to someone in a wheelchair. If you can show that without the cavy you or the students are in one way or another impaired (ie. prone to depression, anxiety, lack of attentiveness, etc.) then you can probably force them to allow it under the act; also check with your state and city laws some cities like SF I believe have a whole set of laws based on companion animals. It depends on how animal-friendly your city is.
 

Squeeky Piggies

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My Sons school said NO more animals last year and all the families protested. The school said it was because of "allergies". However, there were many Guinea Piggys, hamsters and snakes this year! I think that because the families Protested and we all reminded them of who paid the taxes and ran the fund raisers for the school, they "changed" thier minds ;)
 

Baby Bears

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Look, I love piggies as much as the next guy - however, animals with fur are not smart in a classroom. The simple fact is that some kid that doesn't know they are allergic could come into your classroom and have a reaction. Coming from a person that is very allergic to piggies - it's extremely unpleasant to go through.

I am an adult, and I can deal with it and take meds, but a kids immune system in weaker. They are there to learn and not deal with swollen eyes, itching, etc. Also, some kids can't take certain drugs -and why should their parents dish out the expense for a classroom pet?

I know it sucks for you - but the fact is that school is designed for the education of children and the children are the #1 reason for having schools. If a school does not want to deal with the liability of furry animals - TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN - then you really can't argue with that. I know you are using the piggies to educate - but it's just a small area that they are used in to educate (pet care) and there are other subjects out there. Kids need to be able to learn without dealing with possible allergies.
 

Sabriel

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and why should their parents dish out the expense for a classroom pet?

Perscription drugs don't cost as much up here. That's why Americans are always trying to buy thier perscription drugs here.

That said, when parents sign thier children up for school, I beilive they fill out a form with the child's emergency contact # and home info. If the parent remembers to list the child's allergy then there shouldn't be a problem.

And not to be rude. but people are never going to get away from thier allergies. What about the kid that needs a seeing eye dog? Would that dog not be premitted because of another child's allergies or would they just move that student to another class in the same grade? I know that anywhere I go that I may use a soap that'll set of my allergies. Don't people who are allergic to animals expect the same?
 

thundermuse

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Sabriel said:
Perscription drugs don't cost as much up here. That's why Americans are always trying to buy thier perscription drugs here.

Just because the prices are more reasonable in Canada than in the U.S. doesn't mean that every Canadian family will be able to afford allergy medication for their kids, and that's not even considering the fact that some kids just can't take allergy medication for medical reasons.

Moving the kid to another classroom without furry animals is a much more reasonable solution than requiring him/her to take drugs, but that means at least one classroom needs to be fur-free. A blanket policy is probably seen as a fairer way of dealing with the situation, for both kids and teachers.

That said, my brother was horribly allergic to all furry animals as a child, and he was in classrooms with rabbits without a problem as long as he didn't touch them or get too close.
 

Sabriel

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A blanket policy is probably seen as a fairer way of dealing with the situation, for both kids and teachers.

People can be allergic to anything. We can't ban everything from classrooms. There's not going to be anything to teach anymore. We did cooking "experiments" in grade 4 science. But with all these food allergies floating aroung how can teachers do those? I have contact allergies. They are genitic, passed down to me from my mother, and to her by her mother, so are they going to remove soap and paste from my future child's classroom? Or buy different paste and soap so my child won't suffer or have to be slatherd up with cortisone when he/she gets home?

You can't completely avoid what you are allergic too. And kids are going to have to learn that. A child can learn not to enter classroom # 1-A. I learned darn skippy not to touch certain things. I've had band-aids ripped off my arm the moment I've walked through the door (and that stings).

How do these children survive at the park? There are always plenty of dogs in the park where ever I go.
 

Access

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Here is the law:
(broken link removed)

section 2 (1) (a): "physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device"...

Clearly by that law, they cannot forbid a student or teacher who uses a guide dog (allergies or no allergies). Allergies aren't even mentioned by the act.

For justifying a pig, you could try a few different things...

Section 2 (1) (c): "a learning disability" + (b), (c), (d) -- argue that the lack of a pig in a classroom causes the students to be unable to learn about or deal with animals as pets in their normal, everyday lives, leaving them ill-equipped to function in a world where people do have pets. For instance a child who is not introduced properly to a pig early in life may develop a phobia of pigs, or of animals in general... the same way many children start out fearing dogs and unless they are properly taught how to interact or accustomed to dogs the fear may carry over into adulthood and become a full-blown phobia.

See this thread:
https://guineapigcages.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7132
for a real-life example of someone with a full-blown psychosomantic phobia; be sure to read the whole thread and not just the first few posts.

Phobia is a real problem for many people, and when it starts to become psychosomantic it can cause real problems later in life; explain how this is a very serious matter. It's much easier to overcome phobia in childhood rather than have it carry over into adulthood and become even more serious.

Also maybe point out that fur is essentially hair, all mammals have hair by definition / classification. If we use "no fur" logic then that applies to all mammals... even people have hair so they should be forbidden from the classroom too. I mean there are people out there who are allergic to hair, there are people out there who are allergic to hormones produced by the opposite sex, there are many different allergies out there and you do what you can to accomadate people, but you can only do so much, especially when accomadating one person involves trampling over the rights of many others...

Pets should be treated as members of the family, anyone who has a pet knows this.
 

NewPiggyLover

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Thank you everyone for your support and words of encouragement.

I wish I had the parental support in our school to go and fight this thing at the next level. Right now there are so many other problems at our school and with our administration that our few involved parents (and I really do mean few - in a school of 700 students there are only a handful who are involved in anything beyond dropping their children off at school) are in pretty deep trying to get those things sorted out. My poor little piggies are pretty far down the 'needs' list. That being said I have told the parent council and perhaps they can add this latest disappointment to their list of problems when they speak to the superintendent.

Access, I like your ideas, appreciate the time you put into your thoughts and I will investigate further.

And now, BabyBears:
Baby Bears said:
I know it sucks for you - but the fact is that school is designed for the education of children and the children are the #1 reason for having schools. If a school does not want to deal with the liability of furry animals - TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN - then you really can't argue with that. I know you are using the piggies to educate - but it's just a small area that they are used in to educate (pet care) and there are other subjects out there. Kids need to be able to learn without dealing with possible allergies.
I have ALWAYS, as I mentioned, understood that should a parent object and/or a child have allergies that I remove the piggies. As thundermuse pointed out an animal-free classroom is another solution. Of our three kindergartens, two had pets and one does not.

Keeping animals in a classroom is about much more than simple pet care. It is about teaching empathy for another living creature. I cannot stress enough that the lessons learned from having classroom pets are so much more than they might seem on the surface.

And make no mistake - a blanket statement like removing all pets is to protect the children is simply untrue. It is a move designed to PROTECT administration and the school board from the possiblity of legal action.

Having the pets gone sucks for the children far more than it sucks for me.
 

Lyndsay

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Allergies come and everyone has some type of one.. I like another person posting here in this section.. am allergic to soap, you don't see me telling people I can't do anything, cause I can't wash my hands.. I'm also extremely touch sensitive allergic to all metal... so you can imagine what this does for me. I cope with it, and althought I don't have a dying risk, I get to deal with rashes that get so bad my skin blisters, and is rougher than snake skin. We all have our problems, and there is a way to work around this minor problem, I believe that having pets in the school far out weighs not having them. Other than the allergy problem, is there really that many more reasons why they shouldn't be there. They are a great help in teaching kids, and I think that this person should be supported. I hope the parents give some input into what should be done.
 

smoot

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Exposing children to pets goes beyond learning pet care. Besides empathy, it teaches them responsibility, something I've noticed is sorely lacking in both children and parents I encounter in my bookstore on a daily basis.

Allergies are a non-issue in this matter. NPL already said she would remove the pigs if anyone was allergic to them. To disallow the pigs because of the chance of a child being allergic to them sounds reasonable until you fill in the blank with something else that most people think is essential to learning. For example, how would you react if someone proposed that glue be banned because a child might be allergic to it?

I guess the difference here is that some people deem a classroom pet as essential and others feel it's a luxury. Neither position is the right one (or the wrong one). Ultimately, the parents should decide. Why pre-emptively deny the kids an incredible learning experience if all the parents are in support of or indifferent to it? Perhaps the parents can sign a waiver to allow you to have the piggers. That should satisfy your bureaucrats.

Hawaii has a terrible public school system. I wish we had more teachers like you, NewPiggyLover. I hope your school district doesn't ignore this issue. Best of luck!

--Smoot,
Peanut's & Domino's mum
 
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