WASHINGTON – As part of new guidelines that officials say are intended to protect students, hugs from visitors who are not a child’s parent are banned in St. Mary’s County public elementary schools.
The Southern Maryland Newspapers report that the new rules say parents who visit a cafeteria should refrain from touching or hugging children other than their own.
Parents can also only give homemade food to their own child. All foods brought in for celebrations are limited to store-bought items with a list of ingredients provided, as a precaution for kids with food allergies.
The county student handbook for the 2012-2013 school year says visitors must sign in at a school’s front office, but Southern Maryland Newspapers reports the new guidelines also call for a visitor’s picture to be taken by a computer camera.
Superintendent Michael Martirano tells the news site that they’re not violating anyone’s rights.
The school system has also put an end to handing out birthday party invitations.
One school board member, Cathy Allen, tells Southern Maryland Newspapers the changes are “horrible.”
Allen says she understands the need for new rules but some are likely to lower parental involvement in the schools.
Kelly Hall, executive director of elementary education for the school system, says it is possible that the new rules could be reworked after the school year.