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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:43 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:29 pm
Posts: 7
Hello,
I'm having a hard time determining how to deal with my son's allergies (anaphylactic to egg and sesame) in his grade 2 classroom and would appreciate some advice. My son's teacher has been very supportive and understanding, and has sent a letter home to parents requesting that students refrain from bringing in food containing the classroom allergens (egg, sesame, peanuts and tree nuts). As you might imagine, it is eggs in particular that seem to be difficult for parents to avoid. I have provided alternative suggestions, recipes etc, but I understand that it is difficult for people to avoid. And while I recognize that "bans" are not considered particularly effective, I do feel it at least minimizes chance of exposure. I suppose at the heart of the issue is the way lunch is done at my son's school. Students eat twice a day in their classroom, at their desks. Supervision is in the form of a teacher rotating between 6 classrooms. Though students have been asked to wash their hands after eating, this often does not happen in the rush and excitement to get outside for recess. Currently the teacher is washing desks after nutrition breaks, but is time-pressed to do so. The teacher has set up a whistle system so the circulating teacher can be alerted in the event of an emergency, and my son has his own whistle in his desk. The teacher has talked to the class about allergies and many are familiar with them from going through grade 1 and kindergarten with my son. Already nuts and eggs have made appearances (Bearpaws being a particular favourite) and while I hope that people just haven't quite habituated themselves to the classroom allergens yet, I also know of hardboiled eggs, nutella, and eggy cupcakes coming in in previous years. Hot lunches will soon be coming into the classroom as well, in the form of caesar salads (7-year-olds opening little packets of caesar - with it's liquid egg - dressing) and chicken sandwiches with mayo. I know how hard it is for people to avoid eggs, but I'm also concerned about the lack of supervision at lunches and the fact that if kids are eating mayo or crumbly muffins in class and there's no time for proper cleanup that there's high risk for cross-contamination. Any thoughts or ideas?

7-year-old son anaphylactic to eggs and sesame
5-year-old daughter, no allergies


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:45 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:40 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: ottawa
Welcome Baiba, glad to meet you.

Quote:
The teacher has set up a whistle system so the circulating teacher can be alerted in the event of an emergency,, and my son has his own whistle in his desk.

There has been several articles in A.L. living this past year regarding the lunch supervision issue. Your son should be able to eat feeling comfortable and safe and relaxed. How is he going to blow a whistle if having a reaction? I would push for a supervisor to be in your child's classroom at all times when food is being eaten.
As much as we all would love for others to avoid 100% of our kids allergens I don't think it is possible. You might feel much better knowing baking/bearclaws etc. containing egg were cleaned up if an adult was present at all times when kids were eating. However, Nutella and hardboiled eggs should be an enforced NO!

All the best with school, I'm sure others will have great tips for you about school.
:huggy

_________________
DD 12 yrs -no allergies
4 yr old DS - asthma/eczema Anaphylactic to Peanuts, all tree nuts, sesame , all pea/lentil legumes, gelatin.
Allergic to trees, grass,ragweed, feathers, dander, mold and dust.
Outgrew eggs, fish, shellfish


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:23 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:29 pm
Posts: 7
Thank you so much for your response. You're right, I would definitely feel a thousand times better if all eating/cleaning could be done under adult supervision, as I know it's unrealistic (though I didn't realize how unrealistic) to keep allergens out. I have offered to supervise, though apparently there are bureaucratic reasons why this isn't possible. In all honesty it is extremely unrealistic as well. I drive my two children to school (15-20 minute drive one way) in order to try and cut down on illness (my son has had a transplant and because of his suppressed immune system is more prone to illness and missed outrageous amounts of school last year) and with two nutrition breaks plus pick-up after school I'd just be in my car all day. Also my son is looking for more independence from his helicopter mom and would be rather mortified, I think. Budget and work hours restrictions plus rotating duties mean teachers aren't available for full-on supervision. I will definitely discuss this further with the (new) principal, however, and hopefully will have a better solution, though even if there is one in sight, it will probably be a while before we get there. I'm surprised other allergy parents haven't had a problem with this system (which has been in existence for years, apparently). They probably did have issues and concerns but never had them resolved satisfactorily and just got used to things the way they are.
Thank you so much for the advice. I didn't have internet until fairly recently, and it really does help to have access to other people's ideas and suggestions and stories.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:13 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:40 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: ottawa
http://allergicliving.com/index.php/201 ... pervision/

Baibai, above is the link for a past article on lunch supervision. There is an update in this Fall 2010 A.L. magazine on lunch supervision also.
You have a lot on your plate, I am glad you found this forum for some support. I don't think you are unrealistic at all in wanting lunch time supervision for your child. I would really push that with your school at least for your child and other children with allergies. Our school has teacher supervised lunch/snacks. Our past school had grade 5/6 monitors and one teacher per hallway. The children eat more quietly, cleanly and safely with a teacher in the room.

Our DS won't be in school until next fall (Jr.K) but I have realized in the past 2 1/2 years that as an allergy parent I need to pick my battles and really streamline my expectations. I wish I didn't need to but I know I have to. I would love for all kids to go home and eat and there be no food at school - in my dream world - but since that isn't the case I know I am going to have to stick with what is feasable, fair and reasonable.

Something as simple as adult supervision at lunch would enable your son to have a little more of the independence he is looking for and would give you a bit more peace of mind.
Quote:
I'm surprised other allergy parents haven't had a problem with this system (which has been in existence for years, apparently). They probably did have issues and concerns but never had them resolved satisfactorily and just got used to things the way they are.

You have the right to challenge the system, be calm, have a game plan of what you would like to ask/suggest/request and if possible take someone with you for support. If your concerns are reasonable I would hope your school principal would be open to any changes you suggest. Maybe no one has ever challenged the existing supervision issue and staff are unaware it is a concern and just what a safety risk it is for children with allergies!
Good luck.

_________________
DD 12 yrs -no allergies
4 yr old DS - asthma/eczema Anaphylactic to Peanuts, all tree nuts, sesame , all pea/lentil legumes, gelatin.
Allergic to trees, grass,ragweed, feathers, dander, mold and dust.
Outgrew eggs, fish, shellfish


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:27 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:29 pm
Posts: 7
Hi BC

Thank you for your sound advice. I am working on pulling thoughts/research together and hope to be meeting with the principal very soon. She seems approachable and willing to help, so hopefully that bodes well. I was also speaking to my daughter's jk teacher who is in the unique position of being both an allergy parent (her daughter's in grade 1 at the school) and a teacher there. Because she is there to see how lunch time really works at the school, I was curious about her take on the situation (and she about mine). She shares my concerns, and she too would like to see change. I'm quite a mouse, so this "insider" pov may prove particularly helpful.

Glad to hear the school your son will be going to has teacher-supervised lunches. That should alleviate a lot of the worry for you. Prepare for food food food though, which I'm sure you know about from your older son and all the posts in this forum. When my son was in JK I felt like I was sending him off to a restaurant (one where he was left alone in the "please wait to be seated" section) every day. His teacher was initially terrible about allergies and I think her attitude ("stickers and pencils just won't cut it - the kids want cupcakes") filtered down to some of the other parents. After more experience with children with allergies, she has come a long way, however. She proved to be a lovely teacher for my allergy-free daughter and even checked with me about crafts, foods etc that she thought might affect my son.

Thanks again!

DS, 7 - ana to eggs, sesame
DD, 5 - no allergies


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2010 11:36 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6429
Location: Ottawa
There is an article about this in the Fall 2010 edition of Allergic Living Magazine. Here is the link:
http://allergicliving.com/?p=405&page=1

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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: Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:44 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:27 am
Posts: 81
Location: Ontario, Canada
I have some understanding of what you are going through. DS is allergic and contact reactive to dairy (ana), eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut. He just started pre-K and the kids eat in the classroom at 3 large tables. So far his teacher and ECE are great. There are no nuts at the school, and a letter was given to the class to make them aware there is a child ana to these allergens and to please take consideration when packing their lunches (ie milk in non-spillable container). At least one of the teachers is in the classroom at all times. DS sits at a smaller table beside the others and the ECE sits with him. She checks all lunches in the morning and if any other kids have lunches that she feels are safe enough to eat at that table, then they can sit with him at the other end of the table. So far this is working well for us. The only thing I am worried about is that they have pizza day every Friday (can you believe they actually sent home a pizza order form with DS today).

I agree with the others that you should really try and encourage having adult supervision during lunch hours. I read this months artical on lunch supervision and it had some good ideas.

_________________
DS Sept 2006 - peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, coconut; contact reactions. Asthma. Many animal and environmental allergies.
DS Oct 1990 - Environmental allergies


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:34 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:24 pm
Posts: 190
Location: B.C.
I am a teacher and a parent of a peanut allergic student. I can appreciate what you are going through.
I am wondering what kind of support you have from the parent advisory council at your school. That support can make a huge difference. A few years ago, I was asked to offer a presentation on anaphylaxis at PAC meeting to support a parent who had an allergic child starting this school. The group unanimously voted to make their school allergy aware and in that case asked students not to bring peanut/nut products to school.
As the PAC parents are usually the same people who organize hot lunches and assemble the orders, having their support can be very helpful.
Does your school have an allergy policy in place?


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