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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:26 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:55 am
Posts: 29
Location: Newmarket
I should start off by saying I have an allergic child with the following severe food allergies eggs, shrimp and peanut and also has asthma. My child is currently in Sk. alternate day program here in York Region.

I was wondering if any one could explain Sabrina's law to me in regards to food in the classroom.

So far our daughter has had 6 events/parties with food in the classroom and I have been told about at least 3 more before the end of the year. Our school this year agreed not to have parents bring in cupcakes for birthdays due to our daughter's egg allergy.

Which is totally great and has spared me the stress of other 24 days of having food in the classroom. The teachers have been great about having my imput on items to bring into these parties. (at the beginning of the year we met with the new prinicpal to discuss our non support of food parties in the classroom and they agreed no birthday parties but still that they would be allowing the teacher to have event parties).

I keep telling the teachers fruit and vegetables are healthly and safe choices. Yesterday I am asked to provide a list of safe snacks for tomorrows party--rice krispies, cookies ect.

I feel terriable and upset as I told the teacher that I do not only believe food shouldn't be at these celebrations and that I don't support junk food at school either. So once again I told her fruit and vegeatbles are good healthy choices.

Currently my daughter is being centred out and parents are complaining and talking behind my back. I feel terriable as I look like I am a big meanie and a party pooper. Last week a child told my daughter she wasn't invited to her birthday party because she was allergic (I was standing right beside my daughter at the time).

I am hoping that someone can clarify Sabrina's Law for me in regards to food in the classroom.

Thanks for viewing my long post.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:49 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 688
Location: Cobourg, ON
Wow I cannot imagine what the class is celebrating 9 times in the year. I teach SK and we have had a Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's celebration so far and I only plan on having an end of year party also. This sounds excessive. I have a hard time covering all of the curriculum as it is without adding lots of parties into my planning. My daughter is in JK and her class has had the same number of celebrations. I have sent a safe treat each time for the entire class so that she could contribute to the celebration and see others eating some of her food. I do not mind sending the occasional treat. She eats so healthy all the time and we want to teach her that it is okay to eat treats in moderation.

Anyways, the legislation says that the individual plan which is created for a student at risk of anaphylaxis must include monitoring and avoidance strategies. In the document, Anaphylaxis In Schools and Other Settings, it lists a number risk reduction strategies that are appropriate and easy to implement for schools:

Awareness and support from others in a community can help create safer environments for those at risk. To reduce the risk of accidental exposure for allergic people:

* Wash hands and mouth after eating.
* Take precautions to minimize the risk of cross-contamination in food preparation.
* Read food labels and ask food allergic individuals about their specific needs.
* Ensure that children do not share food with food-allergic friends or pressure them into accepting a food they do not want.
* Properly clean surfaces and toys, and dispose of food items after meals and snacks.
* Provide adult supervision of young children when they are eating or when there is food around.
* Ensure that ingredients of food brought in for special events, served in school cafeterias, or provided by catering companies are clearly identified.
* Consider modifying or restricting the use of food in class activities, depending on the allergies of the children.
* Consult parents of food-allergic children when food is involved in class activities.

This document was sent to all schools in Ontario as part of the ON Anaphylaxis Resource KIt. Ask your principal if it has been received and ask the teacher if he/she has read it. Perhaps it would be a good starting point for a discussion about food use in the classroom.

In the primary grades it is so easy to celebrate without food. Young children love to make special holiday crafts (non food ones), play special holiday games or watch holiday videos. It is too bad the school is so food focussed.

It sounds like there needs to be more education of anaphylaxis for the general community of your school. Perhaps, a guest speaker from an allergy association could speak about anaphylaxis. Sometimes, when the information comes from a non-parent source it is more credible unfortunately. More understanding might make people more understanding. Good luck.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:38 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:55 am
Posts: 29
Location: Newmarket
This doesn't count the volunteer breakfasts and bake sales that happen in the school. Her class I am told will have a Mother's day tea and a Father's day coffee. I was asked what they could have but at this point I am so done with all of these parties. Tomorrow I don't even want her to go to school for all the chocolate parents will be sending in for the Easter party.

Even though they know the rules (no candy to be sent in) they sent in so much candy attached to Valentine's day cards. The teacher let them hand them out and I stood there taking all the candy off of my daughters cards.

They have a hand washing rule in place before eating but not after eating and they do a wash down of desks. I take my daughter home for lunch every day to keep her safe as her egg allergy is also a contact allergy.

I was hoping Sabrina's Law would help out in all of these unnecessary parties. Can I make arangements with the public health deptment to have someone come in and speak to the school.?

We haven't even seen anything from our school stating what Sabrina's Law is. I would say most parents have no idea what it is. Most parents I find get the peanut allergy but have no idea that a egg allergy can be just as severe not to mention they have no idea what items contain eggs.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:57 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 688
Location: Cobourg, ON
They don't wash after eating - this is not safe!!! Hand washing is kind of like a universal precaution for allergic people. It does not sound like they are taking the safety of your child seriously at all. I can appreciate the lack of understanding of the egg allergy. My daughter is milk, egg and peanut allergic.

More needs to be done for your child definitely. It doesn't sound like they have read the new document. Talk to your trustee and bring the new document - you can download the information from the website: www.allergysafecommunities.ca It does not sound like your principal is helping you so it is reasonable to go to the trustee. Ask to see the board policy on anaphylaxis. All boards are supposed to have new policies to meet the requirements of Sabrina's law. If they are still revising an existing policy maybe you could have input into the new policy.


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 Post subject: Board Policy
PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:30 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:55 am
Posts: 29
Location: Newmarket
I did send our ideas to our board as the policy is being revised. I just got a confirmed email that they received our concerns. They did send us a revised policy but it didn't stress the egg allergy nor the issure of allergy free fundraising. They have not posted their final policy on the website yet.


It is very specific in regards to epipens and training ect., which is good. It doesn't say much other then each child will have their own plan.

I just feel like I am fighting a battle and am the big party pooper. Until a person has experienced a severe allergic reaction themself or have witnessed a loved one having one them will truly never fully understand.

What I don't understand is why a school would want to put a child at risk just for the sake of a party.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:00 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
I'm not as informed about Sabrina's Law as parents are on this board---but what it does do is it puts the onus on the school to come up with a plan to protect your child. If they say each child will have his/her own plan, then where is it for your child? Obviously, if they have a plan for your child it will have to addresss the egg allergy issue.

So you shouldn't have to be the "bad guy" "demanding" certain accomodations---it is their legal obligation. It would be great if somehow you could shift the focus from what you are asking to what they are obligated to do (which is the same thing, but it changes the dynamics of the discussion). They should have an anaphylaxis management plan. There is no excuse not to have one.


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 Post subject: your child's plan
PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 7:06 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:55 am
Posts: 29
Location: Newmarket
I think this is where it gets confusing. As our school thinks they have a plan for our daughter. That is a sheet of paper saying what kind of symptoms she might have and what steps they are to do in an emergency. Also on the form it gives them permission to give her the epipen. On our own we have included items that might contain eggs and crafts that she should not do eg. items with egg cartons.

When I asked them about her plan they said that was it. The sheet of paper has no indication on how to keep her safe in the classroom. This is where I am getting confused. So am I getting Sabrina's Law right. Our daughter's plan should include such things as handwashing before and after eating for classmates. It would be really great to get some samples of plans.

I will have to go and ask them about that package that was sent out to the schools.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:20 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Some ideas:

1. If you want someone to go and speak to your school, you could call Anaphylaxis Canada and have one of their speakers (from their Speakers' Bureau) go in. (Assuming that the school would make time...) The first part of the current presentation that is offered is about Sabrina's Law.

http://www.anaphylaxis.ca/content/programs/services_bureau.asp

Contact details are on that web page.

2. This school needs to become more aware of what is involved in risk reduction and providing a safe environment. They are currently increasing the risk to your child with all the food being brought in, not reducing it. As for their "plan", to my mind it only covers reacting to an emergency, and not preventing an emergency. This is the key part that they are missing.

3. If you have tried with the teacher and the principal, it might be time to move things up the food chain (as it were) and speak to the school board supervisor. Also make sure that you know what the board policies say, as this may help you out.

I just did a google on York Region District School Board, and found two policies that might help you out a bit (assuming this is your school board):

http://www.yrdsb.edu.on.ca/pdfs/p&p/a/policy/662.pdf - check out Part F, which says that all students are entitled to an allergen-safe environment.

http://www.yrdsb.edu.on.ca/pdfs/p&p/a/merged/661.pdf - I have to admit, it's pretty weak on the "prevention" front, but at least it does mention providing a safe environment....

(Just FYI, I got these docs from this page: http://www.yrdsb.edu.on.ca/page.cfm?id=TP0000001 - did a search on the word anaphylaxis.)

4. Would your allergist help them understand the seriousness of her allergies? Mine is going to write a letter for me very soon (for when my son starts kindergarten next year), and that will be part of my "arsenal" when I start negotiating with the school about how to deal with his severe milk/egg/peanut allergies. (We live in QC so don't even have Sabrina's Law to help us out. We rely on the kindness of strangers....)

I wish I had a magic wand to make it all work out the way it should, and fast.... But I hope these suggestions help a bit. You are not being a party poop - you are trying to ensure that your daughter's learning environment is a safe one.

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: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:59 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:55 am
Posts: 29
Location: Newmarket
You have put it in great words for me. Yes they they have a reaction to an emergency all spelled out yet they have no prevention plans.

This is where it gets very hard. Eggs are in everything. This is why this year I pushed very hard for the no cake in classrooms this year. So there isn't any cakes in the classroom. The principal still wanted the teachers to save some fun and let them have their celebration parties. What I didn't realize that there would be so many of them.

I sent in my input to the policy changes in regards to bringing up other serious allergies and also the need to have a policy on non allergy items for fundraising. Once again peanut allergy gets all the press. Whereas my daughters egg allergy is the allergy I worry about the most as it is lthe least taken seriously.

I wish the school would come up with a policy like the cathlotic school just down the road no food at parties. Or at least everyone bring in their own safe snack.

I am still deciding if I should even participate at this party tomorrow. They have asked parents to bring in only fruits vegetables, popcorn and cheese and crackers. I know that parents will send in chocolate with their kids to hand out last tyime this happened at Valentine's day the teacher let the kids hand it out but they had to eat it at home. I personally think if there was to be no candy given out it should of all been sent back home with the kids or taken down to the office.

Right now I am pretty stressed out just thinking about tomorrow.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 12:45 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:05 pm
Posts: 528
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Maybe you could also send documentation to each and every parent in your child's class regarding the seriousness of anaphylaxis. As a parent of a peanut allergic child, I have to admit that since peanut allergies are more common, people are not as aware of egg/milk/soy/wheat and other allergies.

Unfortunately, it is true that there are a lot of parents out there who think it is their god given right to feed their children peanut butter, so I can imagine if you ask them to not give out anything with egg what they are going to think, not to mention how hard it is to educate them on what contains and does not contain eggs, that some egg ingredients have other names, etc. I understand your frustration, but don't despair, you have every right to create a safe environment for your daughter.

I personally don't think that food is necessary at school to celebrate something and that schools don't need to celebrate everything under the sun.

As far as your child not being invited to birthdays, I think that stinks! :evil: Perhaps you should attach a letter to your documentation explaining that your daughter would like to be involved and if parents have any questions to please ask you and you could provide them with ideas, recipe suggestions and tips on how to have a celebration that doesn't contain your daughter's allergens or that does not revolve around food! Hopefully sympathetic parents will understand that your child does not have to be automatically excluded. As for the rest, well, they are simply too self-centered. :x

Good luck and keep us posted!


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 1:38 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Vancouver, BC
I watched Martha Stewart this AM and she had a great guest, Cybele Pascel, who has written a book, the Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook. She made dailry,egg,nut,wheat free cookies. They looked super yummy!!

I do all the baking for my son's class, and that has gone over well, but I am sometimes up at 5 AM to get it all done, so it is hard on me, but it is easier than having the stress of knowing he is being excludedor unsafe. Now that he is in grade three, hardly anyone bakes anymore, but kindergarten was really hard, I am sure I baked something every week. If I were you, I would write a letter with the principal to all the parents and explain how serious this is and offer to be in charge of all the baking for the class. If anyone says no, request a meeting with the principal and that parent and offer to bake/cook whatever it is they request using safe alternatives. If you are willing to do anything they ask for, and they still have their knickers in a knot, they will be seen as being mean spirited, and you will se seen as someone who will do everything in your power to keep the peace in a way that keeps your kid safe. This way everyone will see the lengths you will go to to keep your kid safe, and they will begin to take it seriously and be more understanding. Three years from now you will probably be a world class fruit and vegetable sculpturer!! There are lots of great books on making healthy cute fruit/veg snacks. I once made a skelaton with a cauliflower brain and celery for ribs. Once you start doing the baking, the trick is to do it so well that no one else wants to bake because their stuff will not be as good as yours, unless they are willing to get up at 5 in the morning, and they probably won't. Soon, they will just be grateful that you are slogging away on their behalf, their kids will have enjoyed your delicious (yet healthy) goodies, so they will be begging to go to your daughter's birthday parties, so they can have more. It is kind of like a political campaign to win over everyone to your side. Horrible that it has to be that way, but like I said, it's easier to take control of all the food, even if it costs a good bit of cash and oodles of time, to know that your kid is not being endangered or rejected because of it. And know that once they are just a little older, none of the parents will bother with treats at all , so it will get better.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 9:52 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 933
Location: Oakville, Ontario
GREAT suggestions Pamela! I'm definitely going to keep this in mind.

I absolutely agree that it takes time to "win" everybody over... it's been almost 3.5 yrs since our son was diagnosed, and it has taken this long for some of even our closet family and friends to fully understand. I believe they were always supportive, but it still takes time - and for the parents too! - to get used to this new way of life.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:46 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:55 am
Posts: 29
Location: Newmarket
It would be all and great if it was for only 25 kids but our daughter's class celebrates everything with the other attached classroom. So every party includes 50+ kids and this year it will be at least 9 parties. I definately don't have enough money to support all of those parties not to mention all of those kids.

We did try this approach last year at the end of the year picnic. I bought icecream for the two classes plus all the parents and all I got maybe 3 thankyou's at acknowledgement of me doing this for everyone. To make matters worse I spent the whole time scooping the icecream with my mom and sister while my daughter ran around and I could barely keep an eye on her. I barely got home for 20min and the school had called to say my daughter was breaking out in hives and that she had told a volunteer parent to take her to the office and to call me. When I got to the school 2min run away my daughter was in the sick room by herself. There had been a birthday celebration with cake in the a joining classroom prior to the picnic. My daughter was in that classroom to watch a movie. My daughter was fine and knew enough not to put her hands in her mouth and to get help I was very proud of my just turned 5year old that day. I took her home and she ended up being fine that day. She did a night later end up in the hospital and was told she now has asthma and spent a week in hospital.

At the hospital the first morning what do they bring her to eat was scrambled eggs and a muffin. So if a hospital can't get it how can I expect the general public get it.

So we went to the new principal in the fall before school started and asked that no cake be brought in for birthdays and that everyone should bring in their own safe snacks for celebrated events. They told us that they would stop the food for birthdays but would continue with heathly snacks for celebrations (fruits and vegetables). What we didn't know at the time that these teachers celebrate everything 9 things this year and even have food at meet the teacher nights.

My daughter ended up getting sick with her asthma and wasn't able to attend the Easter party in class anyways so I didn't have to make the decision on not to go. What I get frustrated about is why then is the teacher asking me what else parents can bring in and to give her a list of safe cookies and stuff that our daughter can have so the kids can have something different then last party. I just felt like a big meanie when I said " I don't believe in having all this food in the classroom, I still believe it is safer for all of the kids to bring in their own snack that is parent approved and safe for them.. The only list I will give you is fruits and vegetables. They are healthy snacks. Then I walked away. That night the list came home saying the parents could bring in veg, fruit, popcorn, or cheese and crackers.

At this point I can only wait until grade 1 when there aren't so many food related parties.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 9:55 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 1643
Location: Toronto
I have a few things to say. I hope none of it will come off sounding offensive - but sometimes when a person disagrees on-line it sounds offensive even if it is not intended that way. :?

I want to suggest that you pick your battles more carefully. It sounds like you have some very valid complaints and concerns. But, are rice krispies a risk to your child due to allergies? If not - then why fight it? You may not like that there are unhealthy treats, but the reality is, your concern is allergies. Don't stick extra things in that battle. I can see how some parents would view it as you being a party pooper. They might be willing to help you keep your child safe, but by adding in *rules* that have nothing to do with the allergy, it will make people think you are just trying to take control unnecessarily. It will make some people think you are exagerating everything about the allergy just to get what you want. They are less willing to want to help you, if they don't believe you.

If the teacher is asking you for safe ideas, you are already a step ahead of a lot of parents. Give her the specific name and brand of some safe treats. Make it clear that this brand is safe, but other brands might not be.

********

The *to many treats* seems to be throughout schools. At my son's school it is not just in class either. Every time parents are at the school for concerts, etc., there is always food - provided by the parent volunteers. Waste of fund-raising money in my opinion. Rather then setting up a table of cookies and drinks - buy books for the library.

I don't approve of all the candy and sweets in the class either. And, grade one didn't improve matters much. There were still a lot of treats. (btw, my child does not have food allergies - I just think it's ridiculous that the schools tell parents not to send sweets in the lunch and then they give them sweets all year long. :x )

This year my son has a teacher that is very health conscious - she believes in fruit and veggies as treats. She does provide some sweet treats for the kids (maybe twice this year so far). She also seems to be quite allergy aware. And she knows that some people are allergic to things other then peanuts. :wink:

***********

OK, so I hope I worded this properly. I've re-read it a few times.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 1:58 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 688
Location: Cobourg, ON
What a diffcult situation you are in! There must be other parents feeling upset about the amount of class time being spent in parties. I know that in several schools that I have taught in, the staff was told not to plan many parties and to include curriculum related activities (art activities, math games etc). There were complaints from parents not about food issues but about lost class time. Are these parties all day or afternoon affairs? I would talk to my trustee about the allergy issues and the lost teaching time also. I am shocked that a school or board would sanction 9 parties with 50 children involved during a school year

I agree that providing food and picking battles is important but your school is partying excessively and not reducing risks for your child. A party with 50 children - that is crazy - what is the supervision like? The kids would be so excited that the whole day would be a write off. This does not have to be normal for children or for the school. Anaphylaxis Canada has a Bill 3 liason officer now. Perhaps this person might be of some help to you.


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