John Rohlf, editor
Later this month, the Warren County R-III School Board will consider a lactation support policy in district buildings.
The board, at its last meeting, voted on a policy regarding lactation activities. Missouri Bill 432, passed in 2021, requires school districts to adopt written policies to provide accommodations for lactation employees and students to express breast milk, breastfeed a child, or meet other needs related to breastfeeding.
By law, the district must provide a minimum of three occasions during the day to accommodate the expression of breast milk or breastfeeding of a child, make accommodations for at least one year after the child’s birth, designate a room in each school building other than a toilet exclusively for breastfeeding activities such as breastfeeding or expressing milk, ensure the designated room is near a sink with running water and a refrigerator for storage, and make sure the designated room has ventilation, a door that can be locked, a work surface, a chair, and convenient electrical outlets.
Sarah Janes, board member, supports the creation of a space for mothers for breastfeeding activities. However, she wondered if this was feasible in school district buildings.
“The idea of having a bedroom so you could go in, that would be helpful to a mom,” Janes said. “Some people use their office. Some have found different ways. But I don’t know if we’d be able to have a room in every building that’s just for that. And the problem is that it says that this room is “exclusively” used for lactation activities. »
School District Superintendent Gregg Klinginsmith thinks the district can identify a space where no other activity takes place while the room is used for lactation activities.
“In every building, we have to identify what that room is,” Klinginsmith said. “And…everything in that room is overshadowed by the person who has to use it for lactation activities. And so whatever happens, whether it’s an office or whatever , they would be told to leave and the person who needs to use it for breastfeeding could do so.
Klinginsmith noted that there are some district buildings where there is no space to designate a room solely for lactation activities. They would need to add to the building, he said.
Klinginsmith wondered if the spirit of the new law was for districts to build new rooms for lactation activities.
“I really can’t imagine the spirit of this law being, ‘I want every school district and every school building in the state to build a new facility,'” Klinginsmith said. That’s how we interpret it, that’s what we’ll do.
Board member Rodger Tucker said he was leaning toward designating a room specifically for lactation activities.
“I don’t like the idea of someone having to knock on a door and say if I can use this room for that purpose,” Tucker said. “I don’t want them to feel like they’re kicking anyone out.”
Board member Jeff Schneider asked the board for more information on what it would take to designate a room in each building in the district, with budget implications for each building. They can then determine the meaning of what the law means by “exclusive use,” he said.
The Board of Directors will receive more information at its June meeting. A deadline for a lactation support policy has been set for July 1.