A friend sent me this story about some new school rules from the St. Mary’s public school district in Maryland. The new rules have been created in response to the Sandy Hook shootings but they had a pretty intense parent volunteer policy before the shootings. My friend thought these new rules were pretty extreme but I actually think our school is already doing a lot of them. (The friend also sent another blog in reaction to the story where the commenters definitely felt these rules were extreme — especially the no hugging.) Tell me if you think these are commonplace now or extreme
But first a little background, a few years before the school district passed a rule that parent volunteers had to be background checked, photographed and fingerprinted. They also had to have ID badges to be on school grounds.
“Mike Wyant, director of safety and security, said that with almost 16,000 registered volunteers, the system was overwhelmed and stopped issuing the actual identification badges. Security screenings are still done.”
Now I had to be background checked to volunteer at our church in Georgia but never to help at schools. I don’t personally have a problem with being background checked to volunteer with the kids but I would think it would become costly to administer. Since the Connecticut shooting, we now have to give up our driver’s license to sign into our school and then wear a badge while we are in the school. (I have no problem doing that but I don’t personally think it’s going to prevent another school shooting.)
With that said, here is a summary of the new rules the St. Mary’s school system in Maryland has adopted, according to the Southern Maryland Newspaper Online:
No siblings at the school – They are still trying to work out for special events. Our schools supposedly have this rule but enforce it haphazardly. In theory you are not supposed to be able to bring baby brothers and sisters into the classroom but I have done it with some teachers. Last year, one of the schools was very strict about it and it was a giant pain to get a babysitter for me to help out at a party when I knew my 4-year-old would behave fine at the event. I personally think this should be up to the parent’s discretion if they think their younger child will behave.
No hugging any child but your own — This is a tough one. I know from working childcare when I was younger they don’t want you hugging kids but it’s tough when they come up to you and want a hug. I don’t think our school has a specific rule on this. I have never been told the rule, and I see teachers hug kids there. There are several little ones in Lilina’s kindergarten class that want hugs when I come in to help, and I usually try to keep a wide separation and pat them on their back or give them kind of side hug with a pat on the shoulder.
Now if they mean that kids can’t hug other kids then I think that’s crazy. My kindergartener loves to hug all her buddies. They are so sweet giving each other love. I see the bigger girls do it too.
No homemade food – Already like that here and at many schools in Georgia. You are told this is to protect kids with food allergies but I have heard from both teachers and parents that they are afraid of some parents’ hygiene practices at home and don’t want eat their homemade food.
No birthday invitations handed out at school – It’s been like that for years. I’m always either scrounging for emails or chasing kids down outside the school to hand out invites when I can’t find emails for families.
When visiting for lunch, parents should not hug or touch any other child and shouldn’t discipline other kids at the table. They also shouldn’t walk back to class with the kids. – As far as disciplining other kids, I think that when volunteering or working parties or visiting at lunch I have said, “Hey buddy don’t do that you could get hurt” or “Hey buddy, let’s get back to work” or something along those lines. I don’t have a problem with another parent offering a calm reminder of “Hey I see you doing that, don’t do that.”
Only “registered” volunteers are allowed on the playground and shouldn’t play with other children or push swings for other kids – Our school will let you on the playground if you have signed in and are having lunch with your child. I will admit that I do get sucked into pushing other kids in the swings. They’re just so gleeful to have adult help them. Lilina’s little buddies love it when moms are there and want to show off all they can do on the playground. They want to show you they can cross the monkey bars. They want to show you how far they can kick the ball or how fast they can run. I think parents would come across as rude and a little bit crazy if they didn’t interact with other children on the playground.
So do these new rules seem extreme or commonplace now? Do any of them bother you? How does your school handle volunteers or check-in policies now? Has it changed since Sandy Hook?