Is lip balm a transmitter of infectious disease or a weapon of mass distraction? From school officials in one Virginia county you’ll be told it’s both. One fifth grader isn’t standing for the ban any longer though.
After being told by her teacher in the second 2nd grade that ChapStick was banned, a brave little girl started a petition three years later to get a nonsensical ban of lip balm products in her school district overturned. For her, lip balm is a medical need to treat her persistent dry, bleeding lips.
Her school claimed that ChapStick, lip gloss, and lip balms are banned because some kids may be allergic to it. Apparently, they didn’t read the memo correctly, because the superintendent said the ban is based on recommendations from local health experts that students sharing them may contribute to an outbreak of infectious disease.
That sounds a bit alarmist. This fifth grader isn't putting up with the inane ban any longer and has collected 300 signatures to get it overturned.
It’s good to see young citizens standing up for their rights against overly alarmist school administrators.
The skin on Grace Karaffa's lips doesn't handle the elements very well. In fact, they chap until they bleed.
For years when it's happened during school, she asked teachers for relief with lip balm, only to be denied repeatedly per a countywide school policy instituted for sanitation reasons.
The first day of the school year, the Stuarts Draft Elementary School fifth-grader decided she'd take action and seek relief from Augusta County Public Schools' Chapstick ban, said her father, David Karaffa.
Grace gathered hundreds of signatures from students in support of ending the lip balm prohibition. She wrote a letter to school board members and last week presented her petition binder to them at their regular meeting.
The prohibition has been in place since a disease outbreak persuaded Augusta County Schools officials to seek advice from the local Health Department and doctors, said George Earhart, assistant superintendent for administration.
Elementary school students share buildings with pre-kindergarten children, and a misplaced stick of lip balm would be an inviting object for one of them to put in their mouths, and, well, share with their classmates, Earhart said.
The school and school district concocted multiple excuses for their ban. From fear little kids would eat tubes of lip balm so they can become a distraction. In an effort to be overly cautious, they are now drivers of harm for kids like Grace who suffer from a real problem of chapped lips. And as one observer asked, which is more distractive, applying a layer of lip balm or watching her bleeding chapped lips all day?
The school system doesn't cite any particular instances of outbreak or allergies, but in an effort to get ahead of what could happen they’ve taken broad precautions. (You have to wonder if the fear of litigation down is at least a minor motivator perchance something did occur.)
That’s indicative of many government policies which apply a broad brush to a problem that needs a fine-tipped implement if anything at all. At the genesis of these solutions are so-called experts who earn their living by pushing agendas that often curtail the freedoms of regular people and override common sense and good judgment. They claim to know what’s best for all, and end up helping none.
The brightest part of this story is that one young woman may successfully drive change for an entire school system by standing up for her health. Too often young people are painted as apathetic, but at just eleven years old, Grace is dispelling that notion. The national attention this case is generating is probably turning school officials red with embarrassment. Hopefully, they will see the error of their ways and overturn the ban.
One person can make a difference, ChapStick by Chapstick.