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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 3:52 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:42 am
Posts: 222
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
PROGRESS! Finally finally finally there will be a meeting with myself, the associate superintendents, the health authority and the regional health officer regarding anaphylaxis in our public schools. It is not such a policy meeting as one that will be reviewing and adapting the template letters that are sent home to members of the school community. It is a start, and I will take it!

I am going to post the templates as soon as I can and ask for all your suggestions in how to stregthen these documents. I will also to do a call out to all other southern Vancouver Islands area who have anaphylaxis children in the public schools, as these templates are used in the Victoria, Sooke and Sannich Schoold Districts. Send me a private message if interested in participating EDIT TO ADD: AT THE POLICY MEETING -- together, we will make a difference at this important meeting!!

YIPPEE!!

Caroline2

_________________
son anaphylactic to peanuts


Last edited by Caroline2 on Fri Oct 27, 2006 1:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Template letter
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 7:19 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:42 am
Posts: 222
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Here is the letter that is sent out to the classroom only. Principals are not allowed to make changes to this letter without permission from the superintendent's office, so stregthening the wording will protect a lot of kids in THREE school districts. I am pretty sure the people at the meeting I will be attending won't go for a full rewrite, but they are open to suggestions. Oh - and please post info if you have a letter in your district that you like -- I will bring it in to them as well. Thanks!!

Date
Dear Parents/Guardians:

We would like you to be aware of a student in your child’s class who has a significant medical concern. This child has a severe life-threatening allergy (anaphylaxis) to _____________. If this child eats or touches _______________, he/she may have a reaction. Even tiny amounts of the allergen can lead to death.

To avoid such an emergency, we are asking for your cooperation. We hope to achieve a balance between the right of all students to eat what they like and the right to safety of the child with anaphylaxis.

Since we cannot guarantee an “allergen-free” environment, we hope to develop an “allergen-aware” classroom. For safety, the following precautions will be taken:
- Discourage children from sharing food, knives, forks, spoons, cups or straws.
- Encourage students to wash hands before and after eating.
- Provide safe eating areas.
- If your child must bring ____________ to school please ask her/him to inform the teacher.

Please encourage your child to support our efforts to make classrooms as safe as possible for the student with life-threatening allergies.

All school staff are aware of the situation and have been instructed in procedures necessary in the event of an anaphylactic reaction.

Ensuring the well-being of all children in the school setting requires the cooperation of the entire school community. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me at school.

Sincerely,
Principal


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:15 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 687
Location: Cobourg, ON
By using the words "encourage" and "discourage" it makes these measures seem optional. These should be rules in the classroom. No sharing of food at all and hand washing is required - period. I cannot see why anyone would object to these rules. Hand washing makes so much sense for so many reasons in a school and children should only be eating lunches and snacks provided by parents. The no sharing rule has been in effect in every school I have taught in. Although there are exceptions made for holiday celebrations unfortunately. But there is no sharing of everyday lunches and snacks.

I think that there are sample letters in the document, Anaphylaxis in Schools and Other Settings. There are also sample letters on the Renfrew County Catholic school board's website under their anaphylaxis policy. This is the board where Sabrina Shannon went to school.
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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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:44 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
In addition to "discouraging children from sharing food", could a part be added about discouraging teachers / parents from handing out food to everyone? It sets a bad example for the children to learn not to share...and points out that classroom sharing of treats excludes children with food allergies.

I'm also a little bothered by "discourage and encourage"...it kind of gives me the feeling that the policy makers are wanting the children (allergic and others ) to ultimately be responsible here...not any adults.

_________________
DD age 9 1/2 -peanuts, nuts,
DD age 7 1/2 - milk, eggs, chicken, peanuts, treenuts, cats, dogs,
DS age 2 1/2
Husband- asthma, eggs, treenuts, fish, shellfish environmental
Self - penicillan, eurithromiacin, mild laytex allergy.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:09 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 9:00 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Victoria, BC
Thanks so much Caroline2,

Here are my suggestions for a stronger letter:

Date
Dear Parents/Guardians:

Please be aware that there is a student in your child’s class who has a significant medical concern.

This child has a severe life-threatening allergy (anaphylaxis) to _____________. If this child eats or touches _______________, he/she will have a reaction. Even tiny amounts of the allergen can lead to death.

To avoid such an emergency, we are asking for your cooperation. We hope to achieve a balance between the right of all students to eat what they like and the right to safety and not having to fear for his/her life when food is involved in the classroom of the child with anaphylaxis.

Since we cannot guarantee an “allergen-free” environment, we hope to develop an “allergen-aware” or "allergen-safe" classroom. For safety, the following precautions will be taken:
- Children will not be allowed to share food, knives, forks, spoons, cups or straws.
- Students are to wash hands before and after eating.
- Provide safe eating areas but not isolate any student.
- If your child must bring ____________ to school please tell her/him they have to inform the teacher.

Please let your child know that it is important to support our efforts to make classrooms as safe as possible for the student with life-threatening allergies.

All school staff are aware of the situation and have been instructed in procedures necessary in the event of an anaphylactic reaction.

Ensuring the well-being of all children in the school setting requires the cooperation of the entire school community. Please feel free to contact the parents of this student to check about any related allergies the child may have. Please do not hesitate to contact them on safe food suggestions or recipes too. These parents have spent years feeding their __________ allergic child, what better source could you find? If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me at school.

Sincerely,
Principal

I can tell there is probably many words that are not "appropriate" to use, but you get the gist right?

Please feel free to comment and add.

Thanks again Caroline2 for getting this going. What and where better to head this all off than at the beginning of a school year. I would suggest that the policies maintain that this letter also go out when the kids come back from Christmas and Spring Break. If we don't treat it or address it as being important, other families won't think that it is important. It is also a good idea because it will remind them after the kids come back after a long break.

Nancy

_________________
Son-anaphylaxis to peanuts, allergic to soy, peas, beans, tree nuts, cats, trees, grass & mold. Asthmatic due to colds & allergies.

Daughter-anaphylactic to kiwi fruit, allergic to soy, dairy, trees, grass, cats & dust


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 Post subject: Re: Template letter
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:41 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 8:25 pm
Posts: 233
Location: Winnipeg
Caroline2 wrote:
All school staff are aware of the situation and have been instructed in procedures necessary in the event of an anaphylactic reaction.


This is the line that concerns me. It may minimize the need to avoid the allergen in some parents minds. What about something like "Although all school staff are aware of the situation and have been instructed in procedures necessary in the event of an anaphylactic reaction, our goal is to avoid such a traumatic emergency situation altogether by keeping this child safe from their allergen." I'm not suggesting this exact quote (very tired tonight, having a hard time stringing two words together!?) . Just something that doesn't let a parent think "Oh, the school can handle it if they get sick, it really doesn't matter if I send in a peanut butter sandwich(or whatever else the allergen may be) or not."
Good luck!

_________________
1 son allergic to eggs, peanuts, green peas, chick peas, lentils and tomatoes
(avoiding tree nuts and most other legumes too)
1 son allergic to eggs, and has outgrown peanuts
Both with many environmental allergies, asthma and eczema


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:10 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 9:00 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Victoria, BC
Very good point!

Although all school staff are aware of the situation and have been instructed in procedures necessary in the event of an anaphylactic reaction, our ultimate goal is to prevent such a traumatic emergency situation altogether from happening by keeping this child safe from the allergen they are anaphylaxis to.

Something like that but not that wordy?

_________________
Son-anaphylaxis to peanuts, allergic to soy, peas, beans, tree nuts, cats, trees, grass & mold. Asthmatic due to colds & allergies.

Daughter-anaphylactic to kiwi fruit, allergic to soy, dairy, trees, grass, cats & dust


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:24 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Vancouver, BC
That is great news, Caroline!

Did you see the article in the "Articles in the News" section under YummyMummy. Maybe you could ask it be included with the letter to be sent out, or maybe you could post it on the PAC bullitin board.

You have done a great job to make it safer for lots of kids! Go, girl!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:07 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:42 am
Posts: 222
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
This is what my friend, who is a professor that teaches business writing, told me when she read the letter. She does not have a child with life-threatening allergies, but she 'gets' the seriousness of the issue.

Quote:
I see the letter as unclear and I would expect parents who are uninformed about this issue to be confused, or un-motivated by it. A simple rule of business writing is to be clear. Know what your objective is, and write accordingly. Here’s what I tell my students: State precise responsibilities. If you don’t, people will not comply with your requests. In reading this letter, the objective is unclear. If you want people not to bring an allergen into the classroom, you need to specifically say that. The discourage/encourage language troubles me. People see those words and they think: Optional. A question I would have for the school is this: What is your objective in this situation? What are the guiding principles that are informing the choices you are making? What is the school's mission statement? What is the school's mission statement as it pertains to children with disabilities? What do you hope to achieve?

I would also note that asking people not to bring peanuts to the classroom in no way guarantees that the classroom is a peanut free environment. It's a request. There's a no weapons policy, too. If a child brings a legal weapon to school, such as a pocket knife, parents do not have the grounds to sue the school for failing to guarantee a weapon-free environment.

Bottom line--if you don't ask for what you want, you're not going to get it.

As for the so-called "rights" of children to eat what they want . . . Is a child who wishes to drink pop every day for lunch permitted to do so? What about coffee? If a child brings coffee to school, is that allowed?

At Halloween last year, my daughter's teacher told the children they were not allowed to bring candy to school a day or two after Halloween. The children complied, even though this infringed on their "right" to eat candy. Why was this allowed?

What about bringing toy weapons to school? Many children enjoy playing with these items, and they pose no threat. Why can the school set a policy against those, but not a real danger?

Why are girls not permitted to wear tank tops? This infringes on their "right" to dress for warm weather. There's nothing wrong or harmful with showing a shoulder— Canada is not Saudi Arabia —but the school is comfortable setting a policy against that.

There's a troubling lack of consistency in the school's policies. Why is the right to eat peanuts protected when the right to drink pop, eat candy, play with toy weapons, and wear tank tops not? What is special about this "right"? That is wholly unclear to me.

I’m sure you’ve thought of all of these things before, but I think the trick to winning this battle is to get them to name the mission or principle they are guided by—all organizations are guided by these. And then hang them with it. They are dead wrong.

You are fighting the good fight! Keep at it!

I will be taking a stab at rewriting the letter using all of your suggestions - keep them coming. Thanks to everyone!

Caroline


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:32 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 9:00 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Victoria, BC
Thanks Caroline for your friend's suggestion,

The School Board needs to address the inconsistencies in their letter. I know they are trying to cover their behinds and not wish to get in trouble with other parents who would believe that this would infringe in their rights, children's rights to what to bring into the classroom. Dozens of times I've had school nurses, crd nurses, some teachers, etc., say "Oh, we can't say that! Or, "That's not allowed." That's because the School Board sets the rules. For the letter to specific say that this allergen is not allowed in the classroom, the School Board will have to say it or write it in their template.

Caroline2's friend: "As for the so-called "rights" of children to eat what they want . . . Is a child who wishes to drink pop every day for lunch permitted to do so? What about coffee? If a child brings coffee to school, is that allowed?

At Halloween last year, my daughter's teacher told the children they were not allowed to bring candy to school a day or two after Halloween. The children complied, even though this infringed on their "right" to eat candy. Why was this allowed?

What about bringing toy weapons to school? Many children enjoy playing with these items, and they pose no threat. Why can the school set a policy against those, but not a real danger?

Why are girls not permitted to wear tank tops? This infringes on their "right" to dress for warm weather. There's nothing wrong or harmful with showing a shoulder— Canada is not Saudi Arabia —but the school is comfortable setting a policy against that.

There's a troubling lack of consistency in the school's policies. Why is the right to eat peanuts protected when the right to drink pop, eat candy, play with toy weapons, and wear tank tops not? What is special about this "right"? That is wholly unclear to me."

The above in quotes definitely should be brought to the attention of the school board officials and discussed when you meet with them about the letter, Caroline.

Nancy

_________________
Son-anaphylaxis to peanuts, allergic to soy, peas, beans, tree nuts, cats, trees, grass & mold. Asthmatic due to colds & allergies.

Daughter-anaphylactic to kiwi fruit, allergic to soy, dairy, trees, grass, cats & dust


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 Post subject: draft 1
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 9:04 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:42 am
Posts: 222
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Try this out:

Template for Schools
Date

Dear Parents/Guardians:

We would like you to be aware of a student in your child’s class who has a significant medical concern.

This child has a severe life-threatening allergy (anaphylaxis) to _____________. If he eats or touches _____, he may have an anaphylactic reaction, which can include swelling, difficulty breathing, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, circulatory collapse, coma and even death. Even tiny amounts of the allergen can lead to a very serious reaction.

To avoid a medical emergency, we are asking for your cooperation. We hope to develop an “allergen-aware” classrooms that will lessen the chance of an exposure to ______. Note that the following precautions will be taken when there is food in the classroom/lunchroom:
- Children will not share food, knives, forks, spoons, cups or straws.
- Students will wash hands before and after eating.
- The classroom will have safe eating areas.
- Children will be asked to inform the teacher if they have brought anything to school that might contain ______
To help us with safety in the classroom/lunchroom for the student with anaphylaxis, wherever possible, please refrain from sending ______products to school. (Someone help me with this sentence!!)

Please encourage your child to support our efforts to make classrooms as safe as possible for the student with life-threatening allergies. Our school nurse will speak to his classmates about his allergy so that they are aware of the seriousness of the allergy as well. Also, if you are sending in treats for the class to share, please remember that they need to be _____ free so that this student can be a part of all classroom activities. If you have questions about what foods are safe for him, don’t hesitate to contact his parents,(name), at (phone number).

Although all school staff are aware of the situation and have been instructed in procedures necessary in the event of an anaphylactic reaction, our goal is to avoid such a traumatic emergency situation helping this child avoid ____.

Ensuring the well-being of all children in the school setting requires the cooperation of the entire school community. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me at the school.

Sincerely,
Principal

_________________
son anaphylactic to peanuts


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 10:21 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
Caroline2,

Quote:
Also, if you are sending in treats for the class to share, please remember that they need to be _____ free so that this student can be a part of all classroom activities.
If you have questions about what foods are safe for him, don’t hesitate to contact his parents,(name), at (phone number).


I'm a little concerned that this statement implies that it is safe for allergic kids to eat
treats which are brought in by other parents. Personally, I would not be at all comfortable with that.

Perhaps, "Children with allergies get left out when food treats are brought in to share with the class. We would like all children to feel included during class as much as possible. We would also like to promote healthy food choices. If you would like to send in a treat for your child to share please send in stickers, pencils, activity pages and other non-food items."

Quote:
To help us with safety in the classroom/lunchroom for the student with anaphylaxis, wherever possible, please refrain from sending ______products to school.


Personally, I find it is much easier to ask someone for something if you point out the positive of what they can do to help...rather than the negative of what they are being asked not to do.

How about "To help us with safety in the classroom/lunchroom for the student with anaphylaxis, we encourage you to send in foods which to not put the anaphylactic child at risk."

I tought I'd point this out incase this is the actual letter you may be presenting...

Quote:
We hope to develop an “allergen-aware” classrooms


We hope to develop "allergen-aware" classrooms...

P.S. You have done a GREAT job so far.

_________________
DD age 9 1/2 -peanuts, nuts,
DD age 7 1/2 - milk, eggs, chicken, peanuts, treenuts, cats, dogs,
DS age 2 1/2
Husband- asthma, eggs, treenuts, fish, shellfish environmental
Self - penicillan, eurithromiacin, mild laytex allergy.


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 Post subject: Re: draft 1
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 11:54 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 9:00 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Victoria, BC
Caroline2 wrote:

This child has a severe life-threatening allergy (anaphylaxis) to _____________. If he eats or touches _____, he may have an anaphylactic reaction, which can include swelling, difficulty breathing, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, circulatory collapse, coma and even death. Even tiny amounts of the allergen can lead to a very serious reaction.

I would say: "...he will have an anaphylactic ..."

Caroline2 wrote:

To avoid a medical emergency, we are asking for your cooperation. We hope to develop an “allergen-aware” classrooms that will lessen the chance of an exposure to ______. Note that the following precautions will be taken when there is food in the classroom/lunchroom:
- Children will not share food, knives, forks, spoons, cups or straws.
- Students will wash hands before and after eating.
- The classroom will have safe eating areas.
- Children will be asked to inform the teacher if they have brought anything to school that might contain ______

I would say: "The classroom will have safe eating areas without isolating any children."

Caroline2 wrote:

Please encourage your child to support our efforts to make classrooms as safe as possible for the student with life-threatening allergies. Our school nurse will speak to his classmates about his allergy so that they are aware of the seriousness of the allergy as well. Also, if you are sending in treats for the class to share, please remember that they need to be _____ free so that this student can be a part of all classroom activities. If you have questions about what foods are safe for him, don’t hesitate to contact his parents,(name), at (phone number).


I also have difficulty of letting another child's family bring in treats they think would be safe for the anaphylaxis child. Many don't know about the cross contamination. It may not have the allergen but they may have bought ingredients from bulk and we all know bulk is not the way to go for a child who is anaphylaxis to a food allergen. Plus, from the get go, we have told my son never, ever to eat anything that is not brought from his home, and this would go against all we've taught him. It should be straight across the border until the child is old enough and mature enough to make decisions on his own.

I do like:

Saskmommyof2 wrote:

Children with allergies get left out when food treats are brought in to share with the class. We would like all children to feel included during class as much as possible. We would also like to promote healthy food choices. If you would like to send in a treat for your child to share please send in stickers, pencils, activity pages and other non-food items.


Caroline2 wrote:

If you have questions about what foods are safe for him, don’t hesitate to contact his parents,(name), at (phone number).

I really like this though because it lets the other families know that the parents of the anaphylaxis child want them to contact them to inquire what is safe and what is not for regular bringing in snacks for their own children.

Caroline2 wrote:

Although all school staff are aware of the situation and have been instructed in procedures necessary in the event of an anaphylactic reaction, our goal is to avoid such a traumatic emergency situation helping this child avoid ____.


Do you think "prevent" is also appropriate?

Looking good Caroline!

_________________
Son-anaphylaxis to peanuts, allergic to soy, peas, beans, tree nuts, cats, trees, grass & mold. Asthmatic due to colds & allergies.

Daughter-anaphylactic to kiwi fruit, allergic to soy, dairy, trees, grass, cats & dust


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 Post subject: Anaphylaxis Policies
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 1:08 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2005 3:25 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Vancouver Island
Caroline, thanks for the invitation to participate. I live in Duncan but this could affect those of us up-island from Victoria.

I'd like to weigh in the following:

Quote:
Children will be asked to inform the teacher if they have brought anything to school that might contain ______
To help us with safety in the classroom/lunchroom for the student with anaphylaxis, wherever possible, please refrain from sending ______products to school. (Someone help me with this sentence!!)


I'd prefer to leave the first sentence out and leave "wherever possible" out to strengthen the sentence. What I've found in my child's school is that kids come with foods they've been asked to refrain from bringing and say "oh well, I'd better go eat in the hall". Some children simply begin to make a habit of it and the parents who send that allergenic food think it's okay because the child is going to let the teacher know anyway. It gives an "out" before you even get started.

Also, at my child's school, I wrote the letter home to parents, explaining what the problem is, what we've done to educate our child about how to handle her allergy and how we need their help to keep our child safe. I then include food suggestions and what to look for on labels. This gives some alternatives and could be sent home in conjunction with the school board notice. If you do this, you're not changing the "official" notice but giving parents some tools and a more personal touch which gives them more incentive to comply with your requests. No guarantees of course, but we've found it's been quite positive.

As a former teacher, I know that school boards are very careful about covering themselves and getting legal council before letters like this go out. However, too much care in wording results in wording that means nothing at all.


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 Post subject: Re: Anaphylaxis Policies
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 1:28 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 9:00 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Victoria, BC
Islandgirl wrote:

I'd like to weigh in the following:

Quote:
Children will be asked to inform the teacher if they have brought anything to school that might contain ______
To help us with safety in the classroom/lunchroom for the student with anaphylaxis, wherever possible, please refrain from sending ______products to school. (Someone help me with this sentence!!)


I'd prefer to leave the first sentence out and leave "wherever possible" out to strengthen the sentence. What I've found in my child's school is that kids come with foods they've been asked to refrain from bringing and say "oh well, I'd better go eat in the hall". Some children simply begin to make a habit of it and the parents who send that allergenic food think it's okay because the child is going to let the teacher know anyway. It gives an "out" before you even get started.


I think keeping that first sentence in the letter is a good idea since if the parents who send the foods that are questionable with their kids into the classroom, at least the teacher will know who has what...I would like to be safe than sorry. Otherwise a parent sends something with their child and the child is not sure and is not asked if it might contain _______. And, definitely, I am all for leaving out "whenever possible". It does strengthen the sentence without it.

Islandgirl wrote:

Also, at my child's school, I wrote the letter home to parents, explaining what the problem is, what we've done to educate our child about how to handle her allergy and how we need their help to keep our child safe. I then include food suggestions and what to look for on labels. This gives some alternatives and could be sent home in conjunction with the school board notice. If you do this, you're not changing the "official" notice but giving parents some tools and a more personal touch which gives them more incentive to comply with your requests. No guarantees of course, but we've found it's been quite positive.

As a former teacher, I know that school boards are very careful about covering themselves and getting legal council before letters like this go out. However, too much care in wording results in wording that means nothing at all.


I really like the idea about a separate personal letter written by the parent of the child who is anaphylaxis re food suggestions and what to look for on labels, but some teachers and principals may not allow it to be attached to their template letter because the school board has not approved it. We sometimes get the "...we have to run it by the principal" and sometimes the principal will say, if they don't want to go out on a limb for you, that it is not in the school policies set out by the School Board. So, to get as much as we can on the template sent out by the School Board and approved by the School Board will eliminate a lot of obstacles.

These are all very good suggestions!

_________________
Son-anaphylaxis to peanuts, allergic to soy, peas, beans, tree nuts, cats, trees, grass & mold. Asthmatic due to colds & allergies.

Daughter-anaphylactic to kiwi fruit, allergic to soy, dairy, trees, grass, cats & dust


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