Dear RCS Faculty, Staff, Students & Community,
We are beginning our new Facility Dog Program at RCS during the 2022-2023 school year! What’s a Facility Dog? A Facility Dog is a highly trained therapy dog who will spend its entire day in our school buildings.
The Board of Education approved the Therapy Dog Policy in early 2020, and last year we began to gather interest from staff for our new Facility Dog program. Staff members from across the district have volunteered and some have started to receive specialized training to act as owners or handlers of these dogs. At this time, RCS has one Facility Dog that will be starting with us in the fall at the High School. Prior to a dog beginning at any of our schools, an email will be shared with staff, parents, and students of that building, introducing them to their newest teammate. We will need everyone’s help to train the newest members of our community so this introduction email will include specific information about each dog and its handling team.
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), having a dog present in the classroom promotes a positive mood and provides significant anti-stress effects on the body. Therapy dogs also provide a ‘connection’ with students that allow them to become more than an occasional friend or visitor to the classroom. The study also indicates the connection between interacting with animals and its impact on improving social interaction.
This is an exciting time for our district. This is a big job for a dog and one that requires a lot of training, patience, and caring. All RCS Facility Dogs will need to pass two tests when they are about one and a half years old: the Canine Good Citizenship test and a Therapy Dog test.
As always, we put the welfare of our students and staff at the forefront of all we do. We will always be kind and respectful to everyone in our community. If you have any questions or concerns, including allergies or a fear of dogs, please contact your student’s building principal. Any concerns you have for your student will be treated with privacy and respect. As a reminder, when a new dog is set to begin at any of our schools, families, and staff members will be notified and provided with more information. Thank you.