Breast pumping in class?

Specialties Educators


Does anybody have any experience with students breast pumping in class? I almost hate to ask about it, but as a new educator I don't know what is normal. I have a student in my classroom who pumps breast milk several times per day. I can't say it really bothers me other than the distraction of having a student who is almost constantly juggling equipment and I'm not sure she is able to keep the milk cold or clean things between pumping sessions, the desks are not necessarily sanitary, stuff like that. I would say in 6 hours of class, she pumps a few times and is late returning from almost every class break, even the 10 minute breaks when she is on the phone in the hallway. The dean told me I have to ask the student to use the lactation suite which is not far from the classroom. The school's policy is that we have to provide a private lactation room. There is no policy on pumping in the classroom and our state law only specifies that women may breastfeed in public and employers must provide employees appropriate places and breaks for pumping. I talked with the student and I think I was kind in directing her to the lactation room and assuring her I would allow her to take breaks as needed and she is welcome to record the lectures. The student told me that the dean had allowed her to pump in the classroom— the dean told me not to allow it! I offered to get her an appointment with the dean or department chair to discuss and she declined.

As a person with no kids or experience with breastfeeding or mother-baby stuff, I don't know how often it is necessary to pump. I have worked with plenty of people and other students who do, but I've never had a student who was insistent on pumping in the classroom, or who did it so frequently. I've had several students in clinical who tell me, "I need to pump, I already let the nurse know.” I'm not offended at all by breastfeeding or pumping, but I would like to know what is normal for the classroom. I certainly don't want to discriminate against the student, I am mostly concerned that she is not paying attention, taking notes, or participating in class. The topic would not have come up, except I was asking the dean for advice about addressing the student's chronic lateness and mentioned that pumping was not an excuse since she pumps during class.

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