EDITORIAL: Students are right on animal policy

Oak Harbor School District’s new policy on animals in the classroom is another example of a solution in search of a problem.

For many years, teachers have brought small animals into their classrooms to help educate students in an entertaining manner. What better way to learn animal behavior than to allow the animals in the classroom? Having ferrets, hamsters or rats available also teaches valuable lessons in proper animal care and student responsibility. Nobody complained, and teachers made sure that no student was ever attacked by a rabid rodent.

Then in stepped various state agencies, alarmed that a ferret could bite a student, or a chick could spread a disease, all concerns boiling down to the possibility a school district could get sued. So restrictions regarding animals in schools were recommended by the state and quickly put in place by the Oak Harbor School Board. No more animals living in classrooms, and only certain animals can now visit. No ferret petting, of course, as this could lead to a bite and possible ensuing lawsuit.

Fourth and fifth grade students have written letters to the school board asking that ferrets and other small animals still be allowed in classrooms. The letters were thoughtful, polite and made perfectly good sense, which is more than can be said for the regulations offered by the state.

The school board should give in to the students’ arguments and reconsider its new animal policy. Just trust the teachers. That’s the way it’s always worked in the past.

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