Brandon School Division to put a lid on too much scent

The Brandon School Division is aiming to implement a long-awaited policy on scent reduction in schools this September.

Trustees first started sniffing a scent ban in 2013

The Brandon School Division is aiming to have a new policy on scent reduction in place in September.

The Brandon School Division is aiming to implement a long-awaited policy on scent reduction in schools this September.

Trustees in Manitoba's second-largest city have been discussing what was first billed a scent ban for more than two years now and are confident a new scent reduction policy can be implemented in the new school year.

The policy will require students and staff to be mindful of how they smell when they enter the division's schools. 

"One of the things we were concerned about was the over application of perfumes, body sprays that sort of thing," said BSD board chair Mark Sefton.

"We do have students in our system and employees in our system who have a really heightened sensitivity or some in fact have an allergy to those types of scent." 

Sefton specifically mentioned Axe body spray, a product popular with teenage boys, as one of the main scents of concern. It was also targeted as a concern when talks about the policy first started in 2013. 

"Imagine a student who is sitting in a science class and is overwhelmed by the scent around him or her," he said. "[They are] not going to have a whole lot of success concentrating or learning."

Sefton said trustees initially ran into some stalls when writing and discussing the policy, including how to accommodate students who smudge or take part in other forms of traditional or religious ceremonies before coming to school in the morning. 

He said the division has reached out to First Nations elders about smudging and while those students won't be exempt from the policy, he said the division does have to be sensitive to their needs. 

Complaints about a person's scent will be handled on a case-by-case basis with the student's teacher or principal or an employee's supervisor left to determine what is and isn't too smelly, according to Sefton. 

However, he believes issues surrounding scent have gotten better since the division started holding consultations and visiting schools to talk with students, but said there is still work to do. 

"We need to continue talking to our students and our employees about the effect of scents on others," Sefton said. "And just having people realize... If one cup of detergent cleans my clothes relatively well then five cups must go a great job and then of course those clothes carry that scent load."

"Or If one little dab of a perfume is nice... then 10 dabs must be great."

Sefton said the intent is to fully implement the policy in September, but said there is room to make changes in case some are needed between now and then.