Class Pets Banned from Colorado Preschools, Schools Fight Back
New regulations put in Colorado prohibit kids 5 and under from having access to certain pets in classrooms. Now, schools are fighting back.
The regulations, which took effect in January, keep live poultry, reptiles, and amphibians out of preschools due to the risk of infections transmitted from hand to mouth. Preschools with chickens and other banned animals have until August to comply.
"It's another rule that is limiting and overreaching," said Ruby Montoya, a teacher at New Horizons Co-Op Preschool in Boulder.
The school has 2 chickens that kids feed during recess. Signage near the chicken coop reminds teachers to have children wash their hands after interacting with the birds.
New Horizons is just one of over a dozen schools around Colorado with chickens.
"The risk of a child getting sick from poultry like livestock like this is like .00005%," said Montoya. "The benefits definitely outweigh that tiny tiny tiny risk."
There is an online petition to get rid of the new legislation and allow chicken and ducks in classrooms. It already has over 1,800 signatures (2,500 are needed).
"I grew up with acreage and animals and I want them to experience that too," said Arianna Patrick, the mother of a New Horizons student.
The Department of Public Health says 5 Colorado children were hospitalized last year for Salmonella after exposure to baby chicks. They cannot say whether those cases were linked to preschools.
A spokesperson for the department told Denver7 the regulation doesn't ban field trips to places with banned animals like farms or zoos.