An annual "ritual" in some schools is hatching chicken eggs in the classroom. This can be a great educational experience for children as they learn about eggs and incubation, watch them hatch and see the baby chicks. It can also be a great source of infection for children if certain precautions are neglected. The picture on the right, from an article in the Ilkley Gazette, shows a good example of a bad idea. This four-year-old boy has a newly hatched chick on his shoulder. Why does this bother me?

If there are going to be chicks in a classroom:

  • They should only be in classrooms with older students.
  • Contact with chicks should be restricted and always supervised.
  • Careful attention must be paid to handwashing.  Everyone who handles chicks or comes in contact with their environment (e.g. box, cage, incubator) should immediately and thoroughly wash their hands.
  • Chicks should never be allowed to roam free in the classroom.
  • Chicks should never be handled during lunch or snack time.
  • Immunocompromised children should not be present in the class.

It’s common sense, but it’s amazing how uncommon "common sense" seems to be sometimes.