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Maryland School Bans Hugging: St. Mary's County Public Elementary Schools Ban Hugs, Birthday Party Invitations And Homemade Food (UPDATED)

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2009, file photo, first lady Michelle Obama hugs children after reading a book at Mary's Center in Wa
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2009, file photo, first lady Michelle Obama hugs children after reading a book at Mary's Center in Washington. President Barack Obama goes airborne in a doozie of a bear hug with a pizza guy in Florida. Joe Biden cozies up with a biker chick in Ohio. Even the more reserved Mitt Romney seems to be loosening up some with people he meets on the campaign trail. Kissing babies and slapping backs are so yesterday. The 2012 candidates are putting their all into the campaign cliche of pressing the flesh. Of course the first lady has her own reputation as a liberal dispenser of hugs wherever she goes. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Southern Maryland Newspapers Online reports on the new guidelines for visitors, parents and students for St. Mary’s County public elementary schools:

Birthday invitations should not be handed out at school, Hall said, because students who are not invited could have their feelings hurt. She said school PTAs could develop phone and email contact lists, with parents’ approval, to distribute.

Foods for celebrations should be limited to store-bought items that contain ingredient lists so as not to interfere with children’s food allergies, according to the rules.

Parents visiting the cafeteria should not hug or touch children other than their own, nor should they discipline other children, the guidelines say. Parents should also not walk with their child when he or she leaves the cafeteria.

Other changes include limiting recess visits for parents, prohibiting visits from siblings and a new ban on approaching teachers in person to schedule meetings. Visitors must also now check in with the front desk and have their photo taken. The complete list of rules can be read in the Best Practices on School Visitors document.

The rules were chosen by a panel of parents and teachers over four meetings.

To the best of our knowledge, the school has no current plans to ban Flamin' Hot Cheetos or award-winning books.

This isn't the first school hugging ban. Schools in Oregon and Florida banned two people wrapping their arms around each other in 2010. For a variety of reasons, the act of expressing emotion with physical contact was also banned in schools in New Jersey, Brooklyn and New Zealand in 2012.

UPDATE, March 21, 4:45 p.m.: Southern Maryland Newspapers Online reports that the no hugging rule was only meant as a suggestion.

St. Mary’s public schools are backing off immediately implementing rules for visitors that initially limited homemade food and hugs for students from anyone other than their own parents, Superintendent Michael Martirano said this week.

What were called “best practices” for school visitors outlined at a school board meeting last week should have only been recommendations, he said, and they were incorrectly announced as new rules that would go into effect immediately.

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