Lake Forest High School in Felton now says it will not only provide one of its students a room to pump breastmilk, but it also has a new mini-refrigerator where she can store it.
The school changed course a mere 36 hours after a recent blog post gained state, and nationwide, attention. According to the blog, the school’s nurse, counselor and a school administrator initially told 15-year-old Jaielyn Belong they would not accommodate her need to pump or store breastmilk during school hours, recommending she only breastfeed her 6-week-old son before and after school.
A recommendation the blogger points out not only violates Delaware law entitling breastfeeding moms to nurse wherever they’re permitted to be, but also federal law, which requires employers to provide reasonable break times for employees to pump. It’s open to interpretation whether being a full-time student qualifies as “work.”
News of the incident spread quickly thanks to social media. A ‘We support Jaielyn Belong’s right to feed her baby‘ Facebook page quickly gained more than 2,500 likes.
“[Lake Forest School District] had a lot of very public pressure quite quickly,” said Heather Felker, with La Leche League of Central Delaware, who along with the Breastfeeding Coalition of Delaware, reached out to district officials last week.
Calls to the Superintendent Dr. Dan Curry have yet to be returned, but Felker, who has been acting as a liaison between the Belongs and the district, says yesterday was Jaielyn’s first day back at school. Felker says everything went well, however, social media was abuzz again today after word got out the teen was made to pump in the bathroom.
“[Jaielyn’s mom Betty] said that’s true, she pumped not in the public restroom, in the nurse’s restroom, but that the school is working with them, that this was a temporary thing while they get a room put up and the family’s okay, they’re okay working with the school,” Felker said.
A sentiment reiterated on Jaielyn’s support page where Felker is quoted as saying, “The school is working with the family, they are not unhappy with the situation at this point. They specifically asked that the school NOT be contacted about this situation while the school and family work together to iron out the bumps.”
As for the mini-fridge, Felker says some local moms donated it to the school for other teen moms and staff to have a place to store their expressed breastmilk.