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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:48 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:52 am
Posts: 214
We had our first allergy incident at school, and I was a little horrified at how the school dealt with it. The child is 4 and has a sesame allergy. We are not quite sure as to the severity. The mother was slow to provide the requested forms for posting, and some days he wears a medic-alert bracelet and other days he doesn't. He has been eating lunch in the lunchroom with the other kids, with no special precautions, but he packs his own and we aren't supposed to give him school food without checking. He apparently keeps an epi-pen and some benadryl in his bag (and in the school office, which of course is on a completely different floor from his classroom) but he has never actually had to use it from what I heard.

Anyway, the kids in the school lunch program were eating bagels the other day, and someone noticed they had sesame seeds and decided the child should not go in there. The parents (who seem pretty cavalier about this whole thing) have never talked to the lunch program provider about the food other kids eat around him, and we were not sure if his just being around them was an issue, or if he actually had to eat them...

Anyway, I brought the kid upstairs with me, kept him company while he ate his lunch and did my best to try and make it fun for him to be pulled from the lunch room and marooned upstairs all by himself with a teacher :) But then I was on playground duty, and someone started worrying about what we would do if he had a problem. I suggested that perhaps the other children should wash their hands before they came outside, so they would not be touching playground bars etc. that he might share. The teachers did not seem to feel it was reasonable to expect so many children to wash their hands (!) and said no. But I was specifically told to find his epi-pen, wherever in the office is might be rattling around, and bring it out with me.

All year, we have been going out on the playground and nobody ahs been carrying an epi-pen for this boy. If it's supposed to be part of our allergy-aware policy as a school that we do, then I think a) this needs to be made clear to everyone at a staff meeting and b) the epi-pen should be stored in the playground backpack and not in the school office, where it might get forgotten or left behind. The child's teacher said she asked the mother to buy a pouch and that the child should be carrying his own, but the mom keeps not doing it, so the school 'won't be doing anything else about it because if the mom doesn't care that much, it can't be that serious.'

Grrr. I don't know how serious it is or is not with this child. But I do know that IF we really are supposed to be carting around medication for this boy, we should have been doing it from day 1, and if the school lunch program will be offering food he is allergic to, we need to make sure that contact issues are not a problem, and if they are, we need to implement hand-washing or buy a bottle of hand sanitizer or something. The school seems to be saying they'll do what the mom wants them to do, and if she does not specifically volunteer a plan, they won't have one. I'm not sure how I feel about that :)

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Asthma and eczema
Drug allergy (succinylcholine)
Food (corn, raw apples, green beans, tree nuts, flax)
Misc (pollen, grass, mold, dogs, cats)


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 3:23 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Vancouver, BC
Yes, who really is responsible...the school or the parent?

If the parents aren't being responsible, should it be up to the principal to insist? In one case I know, the school said they were too uncomfortable to have the child at school without an epipen, and he would have to stay home until one was provided. One lady I knew did not tell her son's high school about his LTA allergy to peanut, cos he did not want to be lablelled, then was mad when the high school served food with peanut in it at an event. When he went to the school I work at, I would see him eating stuff from Tim Horton's, which terrified me. The irony is that she works as a supervision aide at my son's school, and I was so happy when she got the job, cos I figured that my son would be so much safer, as she would understand about his allergy, until she started telling me stuff, and I started seeing how her kid handled his allergy - now I wouldn't trust her at all. Her emergency plan is to have her kid spit the peanut-containing food out and take a big swig of Benedryl.

I wish that this could be clarified - there are so many kids at risk out there...it would never be tolerated to send diabetic kids to school without insulin, why is it different for kids with life-threatening allergies?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 9:22 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6429
Location: Ottawa
Each school should have an general anaphylaxis policy and an individual emergency plan. (In some provinces this is enforced, in others it is recommended)

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I was specifically told to find his epi-pen, wherever in the office is might be rattling around, and bring it out with me.


When you're dealing with a medical condition where seconds count, that does not instill confidence in me!

I would hope that the school can use this as an opportunity to concider what their responsibility to their staff and students is. I would be very upset if my child was traumatized by having to watch another child die and wonder if it was her fault.

The school needs to step up to the plate and protect all children in their care to the best of their ability. If they have a medical form stating this child has a severe allergy to anything, they need to be sure that they put the best practice into place and that is reduce the risk of exposure, have access to the medication and have all staff trained on where the medication is, how and when to use it.

During firedrills, does the school only focus on students who pratice fire drills at home?
Just because you have a child with life threatening food allergies, does not mean you are a hyper-vigilent, follow every rule, organized, have the energy to fight the system or are comfortable with questioning authority. Some people seek out information, some have limitted access to information. Some people have difficulty reading. Some people are further along on the learning curve that is living with food allergies and some are frozen by the phrase "life-threatening" and have a hard time absorbing past that statement. The school has to step up to the plate and protect students while at school to the best of their ability regardless of what the parents do at home. All children deserve the same level of safety at school.

I think that having a drill would be a great idea at all schools. I also think that having the playground monitor (teacher) carry a fanny pack with an auto-injector and a list of children who have an auto-injector as part of their individual emergency plan is a great idea.

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 10:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 684
Location: Cobourg, ON
I think that there needs to be a meeting with the parents to discuss concerns and protocols - buying a fanny pack, missing forms and whether the child has been educated about their allergy as well. These are urgent matters. If there are money problems for the family perhaps the school could help or a community agency. We all know that there can be a real range of understanding of allergy. Perhaps the parent is not well informed about the allergy.

At my last school and my current school, we encourage the children to carry their epipens. But where a parent insists that the child doesn't have to, we decided that the best place was in a central location in the school. That way there would be no confusion when epipens are needed. The problem with a playgroup pack at our school is that the supervision changes day to day. There was too much room for error - someone forgetting to pass on the pack, leaving it in a classroom somewhere in the school.

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11 year old daughter -- lives with life-threatening allergies to milk, eggs and peanuts; seasonal allergies (birch, maple, ragweed); pet allergies; asthma; and eczema
9 year old son - no allergies


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