May 3, 2009 in City

Parents in lather over ban on soap

Vandalism prompts school’s action
Associated Press
 

JEROME, Idaho – Parents are blasting administrators of a south-central Idaho middle school who removed soap from a boys bathroom following vandalism even though hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of disease.

Parents of students at Jerome Middle School say the soap ban earlier this week is especially worrisome considering the spread of swine flu.

“It’s a huge deal,” April Jarvis, a parent of a seventh-grader, told the Times-News. “Had I known there was no soap I wouldn’t have sent him to school.”

Jarvis said the school’s solution created a health risk.

“This punishment is worse,” she said. “It’s not taking care of the problem and creates a bigger problem. Everyone gets sick.”

School and district officials did not return calls from the Times-News on Friday or the Associated Press on Saturday.

Parents complained to the South Central Public Health District, which sent investigator Dan Kriz who confirmed there was no soap in the bathroom.

Kriz said school administrators told him they removed the soap after students emptied dispensers onto the floor.

“I said, ‘What about putting in bar soap?’ ” Kriz said. “But apparently that hasn’t happened.”

The state Department of Education says lavatories are required to offer soap.

“Yes, there is a requirement,” said department spokeswoman Melissa McGrath. She cited the code: “Each lavatory shall be provided with hot and cold running water, or tepid running water. Hand soap or similar cleansing agents shall be provided in the lavatory area.”

Parents said bar soap isn’t a good idea because it could harbor germs that could be transferred from student to student.

“It would be all right if it was the only means to fix the problem,” said parent April Strain. “But I don’t see how that’s going to make a huge difference.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists hand washing as the “first and most important” way to reduce the chances of getting the flu.

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