Connecticut schools ban parents' visits to canteen


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/ Source: Associated press

By Associated press

DARIEN, Conn. – A mother shed tears when she read the director's announcement. Another said it sounded like a death blow.

After struggling with the growing number of parents in school canteens, Darien's school system said parents and guardians would no longer be welcome to visit their children during lunch in the city's primary schools.

This decision has aroused strong emotions in Darien, a rich riverine community proud of its high-performance public schools. While some parents said that it was time to stop a disruptive practice, others, at municipal meetings and online forums, claimed that the change had deprived them of valuable time for monitor their children and embody good social behavior.

"It sounds like a punch in the belly," said in an interview Jessica Xu, the mother of her son, whose eldest is in first grade. "I chose the city for schools, I am so frustrated that schools do not want me there."

Elementary schools usually set their own rules for parent visits, and policies vary widely. Some allow it for children's birthdays or other special occasions. In some areas, districts claim that this is not a problem because parents can not or can not go because of work or other obligations.

In a Darien, a colonial-style city located behind stone barriers where the median household income exceeds $ 200,000, so many parents began to go to lunch, so the directors feel that They affect the daily functioning of elementary schools, according to Tara. Ochman, president of the Darien Board of Education. On a typical day, six or seven parents were in the cafeteria of her child's school, Xu explained.

"We believe schools exist for children and we are working to develop the skills needed for students to become engaged members of society," Ochman said in a written statement. "We work every day on this mission so that our students will take their next steps with confidence and respect."

Darien's superintendent and elementary school principals declined to comment, but a school canteen veteran in neighboring Weston, Kelly Ann Franzese, said that parent visits can be challenging because children are upset when their parents leave and that school staff members feel moved is examined. Some Weston parents visited their children every week, she said.

"From a professional point of view, it's not a good thing to look after your child," said Franzese, who worked for eight years as a Special Education Therapist in Weston until At the beginning of this year. "We would call them the helicopter mothers."

One of Darien's mothers, Beth Lane, said at an education council meeting last month that she welcomed the change.

"It was good because children must be able to learn to work with each other and to socialize with each other. Engaging a parent to radically change the momentum, "she said.

But other people who spoke at the meeting said the midday visits had allowed them to see how their children were doing and help them resolve conflicts with other children. For the youngest children, they could help open milk cartons and find items in the dining rooms.

Terry Steadman, a parent, told the council that she had been shocked and moved to tears by the news.

"Just ban the parents from the dining room, which is actually what you do with this email, I do not think it's okay, I do not think it's in the spirit of." a collaborative environment, "she said.

Other districts have struggled with policies of visits to canteens, including Beaverton, in Oregon, where restrictions were added last year because many Indian and Pakistani families were bringing in each and every one. day hot lunches at home for their children. The elementary school has added a locker where parents can drop off their meals and the district assesses visit requests on a case-by-case basis, said district spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler.

"It's about managing numbers in the school," she said. "You can not have parents hanging out at school, just watching."

The practice is unknown in many urban and poor areas where parents may not have the same commitment to schools.

"In some schools, it's not really a problem because, according to the population, parents can not come for lunch, maybe it's something they can not do," he says. said Tanya Arja, spokesperson for schools in Hillsborough. County, Florida.

Despite the change, said Ochman, the Darien School Board attaches great importance to collaboration between schools and the community.

"We have volunteers in our schools every day," she said, "and we are fortunate to have such a committed and thoughtful community caring for children in Darien."


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