Jamestown Public Schools has updated its policy regarding animals on school property. The changes were approved by school board members last week and followed further discussion after the policy had originally been brought forward in August.
Paul Abbott, school board president, said the updated policy does allow for pets on the walking paths around the athletic fields at the Jefferson sports complex — provided that the animal is on a leash and that students are not using the fields.
School board members, including Superintendent Kevin Whitaker, have noted that the walking paths at Jefferson are popular among dog walkers. Abbott expressed concern in August that the proposed policy change would restrict all animals from schools grounds, most notably at Jefferson.
The policy adopted last week included a handful of exemptions.
“It allows for the facility up behind Jefferson School, the walking track that we have up there around the back fields, it allows even during school hours for people to walk their dogs up there,” Abbott told reporters. “It does specifically state that on any school grounds the dog has to be on a leash, which is one of the things I mentioned tonight.”
In part, the policy states, “No live domestic animals may be brought into school district buildings or permitted on playgrounds, sports fields, athletic tracks, or tennis courts at any time throughout the calendar year . When students are not present before or after school hours or during athletic events or practices, dog owners may walk their pets on a leash on school grounds and sidewalks used for normal pedestrian traffic on and around school district property. Pet owners are expected to clean up and properly dispose of pet waste.
Other exemptions include: animals under the control of public safety officials; animals trained and certified to be used as assistance animals; and animals that may be used in the course of study or for educational purposes, subject to advance approval by the building principal.
Abbott said animals will not be allowed without specific permission from building principals.
“Certainly, we are a walking district,” he said. “We encourage people to bring the family dog along if they want. But people have different feelings about dogs, and we just wanted to cover safety just to make sure they’re not standing out by the doors as kids are coming and going.”