Board of trustees member Bruce Francis inquired at an Oct. 15 meeting if Horizon School Division has an actual animal policy if four-legged friends or winged companions can roam the halls.
“We’ve never had a policy. We’ve had a practice in terms of not having animals consistently in schools,” said Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of Horizon School Division. “Some schools will bring in a seeing-eye dog for example or a hamster for a short period of time. There are situations where schools have animals for short durations. What the communication has been to this point was that if there was going to be an animal in the school, like where someone is going to bring something in, in a special event, you should be communicating that with parents so that they are aware.”
Francis added it would be nice for principals to have something in front of them so if parents make inquiries or have concerns, they can address it.
“We can look into some sort of policy,” replied Tymensen, adding schools often have animal mascots that are integral parts of the school where Alberta Health Services has provided some guidelines when handling certain animals when dealing with allergies and such. “So something like a cat probably wouldn’t be very good to bring into a school because of allergies. Salamanders and reptiles are not good animals to bring into schools either because often those animals are heavily infected with salmonella and other bacteria.”