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More Educational Stupidity.

Agusta-Chapstick-ROHAn elementary school student at Stuarts Draft Elementary School in the Augusta (VA) School District has a small medical problem – her lips chap to the point where they will bleed.

There is a solution to fifth grader’s Grace Karaffa problem: ChapStick.

Yep. That simple lip balm that millions of people carry around on a daily basis to help with their dry, chapped lips.

One would think that Grace would be able to carry ChapStick with her.

One would be wrong.

The Agusta School District has a policy that classifies ChapStick as an “over the counter medication.” The policy states that if Grace needs the Chap Stick, all she has to do is get a doctor’s permission slip for its use. After that….

“Our policy is not to be so restrictive. It is really a protection for the students,” he said. As with other medications, kids can get their doctors to permit nurses to apply Chapstick in the office, or parents can come in to administer it themselves,” [assistant superintendent for administration said George] Earhart said. (emphasis ours)

The school district’s press release on this says, in part, the following:

Several years ago, the school division decided to treat lip balms, including Chapstick, like other types of over-the-counter non-prescription medications and remedies. The decision to do so was based on the recommendation of the division’s School Health Advisory Committee. The School Health Advisory Committee is comprised of local physicians, local state health department officials, school administrators and parents, and advises the school division on a host of school health and student medical concerns. The Committee made the recommendation to more carefully control and limit the use of lip balms by elementary students because of an outbreak of herpes that occurred several years ago at one of the division’s elementary schools. Health officials were concerned that the sharing of items like Chapstick, lip gloss and other lip balm products among elementary-aged students might well have been contributing to a serious infectious disease outbreak. The school division chose to control the use of these products not because of a concern that they are inherently dangerous, but out of a concern that they may have been a means for the transmission of disease.

It is important to note that the school district is not saying ChapStick or the sharing of lip balm was the cause of the outbreak – only that it may have contributed to it. Schools making policies on “maybe” and “might be” demonstrate that the policies are not based on facts, but feelings.

Furthermore, Grace Karaffa is a fifth grader. Wouldn’t it be better to actually teach Grace and her fellow classmates the dangers of sharing something like a Chap Stick instead of banning them? After all, why should a school educate when it can ban?

Grace has made an appearance in front of the School Board to plead her case. Armed with a petition and common sense, she presented a letter and a binder with the signatures to the petition to the School Board members.

Administration officials are gathering information to get back with the Karaffas, [Earhart] said. “Any of our policies certainly could be looked at and reviewed,” Earhart said.

Meantime, Grace plans to contact board members again in a way that emphasizes her particular cause.

“I’m gonna send a letter to every school board member and a tube of Chapstick,” she said.

Keep fighting for what you believe in Grace.



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