(File photo)

Dog bite incident, rumours prompt animal policy review for North Okanagan-Shuswap schools

SD83 briefs: Superintendent says dogs kept on leash during student pick up/drop off not an issue

For their last meeting of 2019, the SD83 school board addressed a variety of goings on in the district, including a refresher on policies surrounding pets on school grounds and an update on the provision of menstrual products.

Among the agenda items addressed during the four hour meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at the District Education Support Centre in Salmon Arm, was the following:

Read more: School District 83 ahead of the province on providing hygiene products

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Dogs and pets on school grounds

Policy and regulation regarding animals on school district property was written in April 2017. The policies allow for students and staff to bring their pets onto school property for education and therapy reasons, providing they generally go home at the end of the day and are healthy.

Regulations also state animals must be kept in appropriate housing during their visit and must not be venomous or wild. Teachers are responsible for feeding, sanitation and handling of the animal during their stay.

Read more: School District 83 reveals fall budget changes due to surplus funds

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Despite these regulations, dogs continue to show up regularly on school property. This lead to an incident where a child was bitten in June 2018 and, earlier this fall, dogs were again present at two schools, including the dog involved in the biting incident last year.

Superintendent of schools Peter Jory wished to dispel rumours he’s seen on social media regarding the district’s policy and regulation on the issue. The policy is intended to keep animals that are not licensed support/therapy dogs off of school properties and out of buildings.

Even with this policy in mind, Jory said people who have their dog on a leash and come to pick up their kids are not the problem. It is when a dog gets off leash and makes it inside the building that accidents can happen.

Provision of menstrual products in schools

Secretary treasurer Alanna Cameron addressed the board, first saying dispensers for the menstrual products were very popular with other school districts and a number of dispensers for SD83 are on back order.

Upon hearing about the backorder, trustee Marianne VanBuskirk asked if the dispensers were necessary to be installed in all schools. She explained other districts use an honour system to provide students with the menstrual products kept simply in a basket or box. The suggestion was made in the interest in saving money as VanBuskirk said the program looked to be over budget by more than $2,000. VanBuskirk added later she would like to see how the district could prioritize which schools received the dispensers first as they trickled in.

Read more: Shuswap elementary enrolment numbers two times higher than projections

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Cameron said the dispensers already operate on an honour system, they just keep the product organized. Cameron explained the dispensers were the lowest- cost dispenser option, designed to keep the inventory neat and sanitized.

Addressing the budget concern, Cameron said the budget provided by the ministry included the purchasing of menstrual products, not necessarily all the dispensers required.

Long-range facilities plan consultation

The board approved a motion that laid out how SD83 will be engaging in a stakeholder a consultation process in support of the long-range facilities plan and potential school reconfiguration.

A more specific schedule is being created in collaboration with schools and councils in each community within these dates.

  • January 6-17: Enderby and Sicamous
  • January 20-31: Armstrong and Falkland
  • February 3-14: Salmon Arm Rural and Urban, including west shore
  • February 17-28: Second round meetings as necessary

@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

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