Wake says goodbye to blood drives during school, and gets a strong reaction

Yolanda Venters is attended to by Red Cross worker Elliott Brown during a blood drive at East Wake High School in 2011.
Yolanda Venters is attended to by Red Cross worker Elliott Brown during a blood drive at East Wake High School in 2011. NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

Wake County schools are no longer allowed to host blood drives during learning hours – a new rule some students don’t appreciate.

School system leaders informed principals of the change Tuesday, WCPSS spokeswoman Lisa Luten said. On Thursday, supporters of the during-school blood drives began tweeting their concerns.

“What’s with canceling all Blood Drives in the county?” Keton York tweeted. “Does Wake County have a problem with saving lives and giving blood? Students contribute a lot, why restrict our ability to do so?!”

York posted a “SAVE The Blood Drive” survey in the thread, asking people whether they would rather donate blood during school, after school or on the weekends. Another student posted a screenshot Friday morning, showing 89.8 percent of the 352 responses to the survey favor donating blood during the school day.

Luten said she reached out to York to clarify that blood drives are not being canceled altogether. Schools can still host blood drives after learning hours on school days, on weekends and on teacher workdays.

The change was made to address the effects blood drives had on teaching and learning during the school day, and to make blood drives safer for students, Luten said.

“It takes a lot of staff and student participation to make a blood drive successful,” Luten said. “You’re pulling a lot of the teachers and students out of the classroom, possibly for the entire day, losing a lot of instructional time.

“There were also issues with students participating in the blood drive, but that information not being passed on to everyone who is responsible for them – parents, coaches and teachers, alike.”

An example she gave is if a coach didn’t know a student-athlete gave blood during the school day, and then allowed that student to participate in physical activity that could be overtaxing.

After school hours, or on non-school days, Luten said, organizers will be able to focus more on the students.

Luten said she appreciates the students’ passion for supporting the cause of giving blood, and that the school system is exploring new options for continuing its support of the American Red Cross.

“We are still going to be hosting blood drives with them,” said Red Cross spokeswoman Maya Franklin. “We’re working with them to figure out how they will continue their support.”