Hi Readers: Here we go again. For the sake of the children (somehow), schools are looking at whether they should banish class pets. After all, they could spread DISEASE! And they are (somehow) a liability! And ________________! (Fill in the blank with something else bad they do. I know that’s kind of hard, but if you’re a pencil-pushing killjoy, keep trying. You can do it.) According to The Herald, in Everett, Washington:
…school districts have begun adopting policies that in many cases limit or even ban animals in the classroom unless they’re part of science projects.
Animals may be cute and fun to be around. But they can spread disease and cause allergic reactions in students. And students are exposed to animal wastes.
With these and potential liability concerns, the state is asking school districts to draw up policies on what animals, other than service animals, should be allowed in schools.
How about those scary animals that have clipboards and dream up worst case scenarios for every aspect of childhood? Let’s ban THOSE! But no, first we must worry more about The Children:
“You have to be very cautious about the environment in which they learn,” [Dept. of Health spokesman] Moyer said.
Students can be infected with bacteria, such as E. coli, MRSA or salmonella, after touching pets and not washing their hands, said Nickol Finch, who heads the exotic and wildlife services at Washington State University.
Students can get ringworm from guinea pigs, she said. And turtles, snakes and lizards can spread salmonella.
Germs can be passed when a child shares lunch with an animal, allowing it to take a bite of a carrot, for example, and then the child eats the rest of the vegetable.
Influenza, including H1N1, can be passed from humans to ferrets, or from ferrets to humans, she said.
No one’s saying we live in a disease-free world. But to suddenly worry that pets are spreading MRSA is to imagine a Michael Crichton-esque scenario, at best. My son had a bunny in his kindergarten classroom and the only thing it spread was joy.
So here’s my (usual) plea: Instead of looking at life through the lens of “What if?” and Worst-First Thinking (A bunny? What if it spreads the PLAGUE?), let us step back, take a deep breath and chill. Like a lizard. — L