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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 9:35 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2007 12:41 pm
Posts: 3
I am new to this board and would like to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience evident here. We are about to send my daughter to a 4K (4-yr-old kindergarden) program at a private school here in Atlanta beginning in August. One of the reasons we pursued private school is that we believed we would find a more accommodating environment in a private school, but after meeting with the school nurse we are very concerned about the school's preparedness for dealing with children like our daughter. She is highly allergic to peanuts and tree nuts of all types. I am searching the internet for best practices for school food allergy policy/procedures. I believe the school is open to improving their policies - if not we will find a new school. Anyway, I am looking for resources or specific school plans that focus on prevention in order to present to the school policy-makers. My most immediate concern is that the nurse relayed to us that the school "will not make the classroom peanut-free" based on the ostensible reason that they cannot "guarantee" a peanut-free classroom. This problem is compounded by the fact that the 4 and 5 year olds eat lunch in their classroom, not in the cafeteria with the older children. Thus, my daughter could conceivably be surrounded by 14 other children eating peanut butter sandwiches! The other obvious problem is the school's current policy to keep Epi-pens in the nurse's office only, not in the classroom. This makes no sense to us.


We are meeting with our allergist tomorrow and hope he will help, perhaps by preparing a letter to the school, but it would be very helpful to be able to approach the school administration with ideas that are already substantiated as "best practices." Any help you may be able to offer would be wonderful.

_________________
Beth Reeves - mother of 4 1/2 year old with severe allergies to peanuts and all tree nuts, 8 month old allergic to dairy and beef


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 9:26 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
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Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Hi Beth -

I would browse the other posts in this forum to see what others have done in past situations, because this is definitely a common concern for parents - making sure that the school is going to be taking measures to reduce the risks for their child, and also to be prepared to act in the event of an emergency.

And that is a key phrase: reducing the risk. Removing peanuts and nuts from the classroom does not guarantee that there will never be a problem, but it sure does reduce the risk. No one could claim that letting 4 and 5 year olds consume peanut butter sandwiches (and get it all over their hands and mouths and the surfaces...) beside a child who is allergic to peanuts is reducing the risk to that child.

So I would talk to the school in those terms. It's about (a) reducing the risk and (b) being able to react appropriately in the event of an emergency.

And I would agree that it is not worth it if they are not willing to work with you to do these two things to your satisfaction.

Also, are you aware that in the US, public schools are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and have to accommodate children at risk of anaphylaxis? It's referred to as Section 504. See http://www.access4allergickids.com/Section_504.html for more details and info, along with http://www.allergybuyersclub.com/faqs/aafaADA.shtml . (Sorry, I don't know much more than that since I live in Canada.)

K.

_________________
Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 9:56 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 687
Location: Cobourg, ON
Some private schools might not be as accommodating since they see parents as "customers" and while you would be one also, the vast majority might not want to change their classroom or school to be peanut free. The school might not want to upset a number of parents to help one. I am not saying this is right but it might work this way. Public schools are bound by more regulations and are open to all so they must/should be more willing to reduce risks for allergic children. Good luck.

_________________
13 year old daughter -- lives with life-threatening allergies to milk, tree nuts and peanuts; seasonal allergies (birch, maple, ragweed); pet allergies; asthma; and eczema
10 year old son - no allergies


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2007 6:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:39 pm
Posts: 2948
Location: Toronto
Hi Beth,

What did your allergist think?
Have you decided what to do?

I think you might want to have a look at this site: http://www.allergysafecommunities.ca
It's for Canadian schools, but things like the principal's letter home to other parents could be useful. Avoidance strategies as well, since the issues are similar.

Take a look also for resources at FAAN - www.foodallergy.org

_________________
Allergic to soy, peanut, shellfish, penicillin


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:22 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2007 12:41 pm
Posts: 3
I appreciate the input from all and wanted to provide an update. We had several productive meetings with the school headmaster, head of the primary school, and school nurse over the course of the summer. We actually succeeded in having the school implement (for the first time!!) specific policies/protective measures to help reduce the risk of our daughter coming into contact with allergens. This is what the school has agreed to do:

- email going out to all parents today stating that peanuts/tree nuts and products containing peanuts/tree nuts are not allowed in the classroom, with reminder emails sent the beginning of each month (email is the designated primiary communication tool for this school)
- signs posted at the entrance to the kindergarden building and at the door of each classroom our daugther will use stating: "Caution: students with severe food allergies. No peanuts, peanut products, tree nuts, or tree nut products allowed. No sharing or exchange of food. All visitors are required to wash hands before entering."
- Epi-pens will be kept in both classrooms our daughter will use during the school day, in the school nurse's office, and our daugther will carry an additional Epi-pen in a fanny pack at all times
- laminated document w/ our daughter's photo kept in classrooms at all times describing symptoms of an allergic reaction and directions for use of Epi-pen
- all her teachers and playground monitors have been trained in recognizing symptoms of a reaction and administering Epi-pen

Here is what they will not agree to do:
- Ban peanuts and tree nuts from the entire school

We did have our allergist write a letter in support of our requests. He has been wonderful, spending many hours assisting and educating us.

My husband and I worked very hard to achieve these policies and feel probably as comfortable as we can while knowing that we cannot control every variable. The surprising thing is that school management completedly changed their tune on this once they realized how seriously we were taking it. I guess -- amazingly -- no parents of food-allergic children have pushed the issue before.

Thanks again for the wealth of knowledge and experience on this board.

_________________
Beth Reeves - mother of 4 1/2 year old with severe allergies to peanuts and all tree nuts, 8 month old allergic to dairy and beef


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:19 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:39 pm
Posts: 2948
Location: Toronto
Beth, congratulations to you and your husband. Well done - you've accomplished a lot!

It's great to hear that the school was responsive. Even if you had to break some new ground, the level of precautions sounds very good. As good, if not better, than those in schools where there have been anaphylaxis policies for years.

_________________
Allergic to soy, peanut, shellfish, penicillin


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