Seneca Valley to review wellness policy

March 8, 2012 5:22 am

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Seneca Valley is taking another look at policies relating to allergy management and snacks brought to classrooms.

Board member Eric Gordon said he will introduce two revised policies relating to food and allergies Monday.

Mr. Gordon said they have broadened the policy to an allergy policy that will cover more than just food. The food allergy policy passed unanimously on an initial vote last month.

Revisions to the wellness policy, which were introduced to support the food allergy policy, were rejected at first reading in a 5-4 vote with Mr. Gordon and Jim Welsh, Reed Moon, Eric DiTullio and Kelly Kopera opposed. Robert Hill Jr., Jim Nickel, Jeanette Lahm and Jason Wehrle voted in favor of the changes.

School board members who disagreed with the changes mostly voiced their concerns over banning birthday celebration snacks and not allowing teachers to use "reward" foods. Board members said those things were meaningful to youngsters in the younger grades.

Administrators said limiting food celebrations to controlled events such as Halloween, Christmas and Valentine parties would minimize classroom disruptions and help keep classrooms as "allergen protected areas."

Mr. Gordon said after meeting with the committee that drafted the original changes -- made up of parents, teachers, school nurses and other employees -- he will introduce revisions that will still allow "reward" foods that are nutritious, but ban foods for birthday celebrations. Mr. Gordon said they will instead encourage nonfood celebrations and activities such as having a special guest coming to lunch on a child's birthday.

Mr. Moon, who also met with the committee, said he, too, will support the new wellness policy, noting, "We need to make our classrooms a safe place." Mr. DiTullio and Mr. Welsh both said they will still vote against the revised wellness policy.

"I'm concerned we are creating a false sense of security," Mr. DiTullio said.

Laure Cioffi, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.
First Published 2012-03-08 04:22:51

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