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 Post subject: Template for schools
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 3:05 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 11:33 pm
Posts: 20
Location: Victoria, BC
Wow! Oh my gosh!

Kudos to you for this brave endeavor. I'm not sure where to start with this. I have finally had a chance to get back onto this site. I've been viewing many postings about allergy and school issues. It is now confirmed, our family is very lucky to be attending the school we are. We have had co-operation from day one. Being new at the school thing I did find though, that some of their procedures didn't make sense - like why give me the consent form to administer medication for a life-threatening allergy after our child has started school. The form required our doctor's signature and instruction. We should have been sent the form when registration was confirmed (the information was on the registration form completed the previous February. They were aware a child with a life-threatening allergy was going to be attending).

Anyway, back to the letter. It wasn't too bad, for their purpose. Be clear, keep it simple, not too wordy. Sometimes a bit of telling people what to do makes it easier for them to understand instead of telling them the negative, what not to do.

1. I like that you described what some of the anaphylactic symptoms could be - it gives the other parents an idea.
2. "We hope to develop an "allergen-aware" classroom that will lessen .... add, We also 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 - for the parents of non-allergic children, it may be beneficial for them to see that their right to feed their child the allergen at home is still recognized. The schools don't want the perception of favouring.
3. List of precautions: to add that extra janitorial cleaning will be done in this classroom and washroom that is most used by the anaphylactic child - this is something that our school has implemented. He also places his own food on a napkin sent from home instead of on the desk.
4. "Please encourage your child .... to make our school (our school = ownership & promotes not just in the classroom) as safe as possible ..." add This could include enjoying ____ at home instead of at school.
5. The school nurse will speak with the classroom to educate them about the life-threatening allergy. Please contact the teacher if you are interested in attending this discussion - I wish we were advised when this was going to happen, instead of being told about it after the fact. I also think that some of the other parents would have been interested to hear what their child is being taught about this subject
6. I'm not sure about the "Also, if you are sending in treats ..." I know you want the school to give direction about this but at the same time, if they won't ban the allergen they are not going to want to be telling parents to only send allergen-free food. I'm stumped here. May be .... "Special shared snack days may become difficullt. "Perhaps" (help me with this word) consider sending food that all children in the class can enjoy ".
7. "if you have questions about what foods are safe ... " May be "A list of prepackaged food that are safe for this student will be sent home by your teacher." - we were asked to provide a list. I added the items I know our son cannot have as well. The list of prepackaged food that he can have was bigger than the list of food he could not have. Visually, it was good for the other parents. They weren't so scared about the whole thing. The PAC who does hot lunch for the whole school and milk and cookie day for Kindergarten (half days) even took a copy to accomodate our son.

Sorry, for the length. Talk about too many words. Good luck.

_________________
6 year old son ana to peanuts, cashews, asthma, eczema
Almost 3 year old daughter, not tested yet
Husband, lucky guy with no allergies
Self, trees, weeds & grass girl, cats, dogs, chemical sensitive, eczma & now peanuts, fish, shellfish & penicillin


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:09 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 688
Location: Cobourg, ON
Just to add to the discussion. I think it would be important to be concise and to use wording that is as clear and easy to understand as possible without too much allergy jargon. There will be very diligent parents who will read letters from school and there will be those who will just not bother reading a long letter. As a teacher I know that many notes from school are not read at all. As well, there will be people with limited reading skills that will need to read and understand these letters. Prioritize what you need parents to know and do.

_________________
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: Draft 2
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:51 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:42 am
Posts: 222
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
This forum is AWESOME! Such fantastic comments! There are so many issues at stake. For instance, since so many snacks seem to come into the classroom, I have both a 'safe' snack bag and have worked with parents and teachers to make sure other snacks are ok. It never occurred to me until joining this forum that NO snacks are better! But I will put that in the letter because I think that is a a very good option. Thanks!

Also, I edited out the 'right to safety vs right to eat what they want' line because it is my biggest hurdle with the school and the superintendents. Now that I have the fodder of retorts from my writing friend, I am not as fearful of putting that in the letter, and understand the point that it creates a balance in the letter. However. . . I am still not completely convinced of its validity -- sounds like legal talk to me - so let's keep talking about it.

See below for another stab at the letter! Caroline2
ps if any Victoria area parents want to come to this meeting, please send me a pm so I can get your full name and school info on the agenda. THANKS

---
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 will 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 “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 without isolating any children.
- Children will be asked to inform the teacher if they have brought anything to school that might contain ______
To help us with avoiding ____ in the classroom/lunchroom, the safest option is to consume ______products at home.

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 the class about allergies so that they are aware of the seriousness of this medical concern. Please contact the teacher if you are interested in attending the information session, and do not hesitate to contact his parents,(name), at (phone number) for more information on his allergy.

If you are sending in treats for the class to share, please contact the school in advance. I encourage you to consider non-food items for some of the celebrations so that all children my participate in the fun.

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 prevent such a traumatic emergency situation by 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


Last edited by Caroline2 on Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 3:22 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
Really good Caroline2!!!

_________________
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: Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 688
Location: Cobourg, ON
Looks good!

_________________
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: Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:26 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 8:25 pm
Posts: 233
Location: Winnipeg
Ya, much stronger and more concise, yet still balanced and diplomatic. Way to go!

_________________
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: Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:35 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 9:00 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Victoria, BC
Caroline2,

A better and more stronger letter. Thanks! :)

_________________
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: Sun Oct 29, 2006 2:01 pm 
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Site Admin

Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6502
Location: Ottawa
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!!)




The first sentance here bothers me. Children will be asked to inform...who is asking them? Is the teacher going to ask at the begining of snack time "Who has allergens in their snacks?"? Whose responsibility is it to know what is in the snack? Do these students know all of the names of the allergens?
How about something like: "If you must send a snack that contains an allergen, it must be accompanied by a note to the teacher advising of the allergen."? Honestly, how do you enforce it?
Our school has requested that students only bring fruits or vegetables for snacks.

For the second sentance, I would simply state, "To provide a safe environment for all students we request that celebrations be kept food free." If you feel the need to add more I would suggest, "Your time and energy is gift enough, you are welcome to share in our festive activities!"

_________________
Moderator
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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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 5:57 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:42 am
Posts: 222
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Thanks, Susan, for your suggestions.

Quote:
The first sentance here bothers me. Children will be asked to inform...who is asking them? Is the teacher going to ask at the begining of snack time "Who has allergens in their snacks?"? Whose responsibility is it to know what is in the snack? Do these students know all of the names of the allergens?
How about something like: "If you must send a snack that contains an allergen, it must be accompanied by a note to the teacher advising of the allergen."? Honestly, how do you enforce it?
Our school has requested that students only bring fruits or vegetables for snacks.


This has been one of the key stumbling blocks for my discussions with my principal. The school board wants the other parents to know the expectations and that they understand kids will be asked about their lunches. The template letter menitions that they are asking for cooperation, but the district cannot enforce the requests if it does not happen. That makes a little bit of sense, but still the district has this thought that if more is asked of the parents regarding food in the classroom, there will be public backlash of complaints. This is one of the main reasons I want change, because usually the attitude of frustration about 'food restrictions' is replaced with understanding and compassion when awareness is raised around the seriousness of anaphylactic allergies and the reason for the request. Sad to say that some schools seem to be very very afraid of asking the other parents to do just about anything when it comes to food -- we are a long ways off from having just fruits or veg for snack. I hope we get there one day.

This runs into your next point. If I were to directly ask that no food be sent to school for celebrations, they would not agree to put in the letter. Yet another challenge with my district is that they are really stuck on the fact that people have the right to eat/bring whatever food they want into the school and no one can stop them. . . Of course that argument falls apart if you look at the other restrictions in place in the district, so I will be prepared to talk about that as well. So,k if they are able to agree to just suggesting the idea of having non-food celebrations, we would be making progress.

I am now having the letter reviewed by my writing prof friend. All of your suggestions have been most helpful and I KNOW I will make progress at this meeting. I still have not been informed of when we will meet but I will certainly let you all know when I get that information. What a tough haul...

Caroline2


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 Post subject: Re: Draft 2
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 6:02 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 9:00 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Victoria, BC
-Susan_

Caroline2 wrote:

- Children will be asked to inform the teacher if they have brought anything to school that might contain ______
To help us with avoiding ____ in the classroom/lunchroom, the safest option is to consume ______products at home.


Our teacher at school actually asks every child when snack boxes are opening whether anyone has peanuts. So, at our school, the teacher asks the kids.

Caroline2 wrote:

If you are sending in treats for the class to share, please contact the school in advance. I encourage you to consider non-food items for some of the celebrations so that all children my participate in the fun.


I think Caroline's third draft of letter (sentence above) does cover asking that parents not send food items to school for celebrations.

Caroline and Saskmommyof2, I think that is a wonderful idea about if anyone has to bring something for celebrations, make them non food items. I really like that. That way they still get to celebrate but it doesn't have to be food.

_________________
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: Mon Oct 30, 2006 10:49 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:42 am
Posts: 222
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
My writing prof friend said the letter seems stronger and more direct but for one sentence. She pointed out:
Quote:
To help us with avoiding ____ in the classroom/lunchroom, the safest option is to consume ______products at home.


She said that if the goal is to keep an allergen out of the classroom, we need to ask for that directly. She suggested:
Quote:
To help us with avoiding _____ products in the classroom, please do not send them to school.


Makes sense. I know there was discussion of staying on the positive side, but what do you think? Is being direct more important than being diplomatic? Just as important? Do we have room in the letter to do both?

Caroline2


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 11:06 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 936
Location: Oakville, Ontario
Caroline2, I wanted to commend you for this terrific letter. Isn't it wonderful to receive all this tremendous input from our Allergic Living on-line community! I think it's a great letter, and I've printed off a copy to share with the brand new "Allergy Group" committee which has been formed at my 7 year old daughter's school. My 4 year old son is the one with the food allergies and he will not start at this paticular school until grade 1 in the fall of 2008. I strongly believe that I need to be involved in the committee right now. It is complicated when dealing with multiple food allergies in the school setting, and I know a lot of preparation will be required to ready my son, and the school for dealing with multiple food allergies. I was quite involved in both of my kid's schools last year, and I noted that at each school there is tremendous awareness of peanut and nut allegies; however, little seemed to be known of other allergens. Your letter, and other information I have obtained, will provide some very useful tools in forming an effective "Allergy Group" within the school. Thank you!

_________________
15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, peas, carrots, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 11:26 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:42 am
Posts: 222
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
I don't deserve the thanks -- the Allergic Living people do! I think this is an amazing forum as well, and I really appreciate all the suggestions that have come in for this letter. I feel so very lucky to have this community!

Good luck with the committee at school -- you are raising their awareness in advance and doing that will make the transition into school an easier one for you and your family. Your hard work now WILL pay off.

Caroline


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 11:51 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
Quote:
To help us with avoiding _____ products in the classroom, please do not send them to school.


To me, that sounds like a ban, which the school district has already stated it does not support, right? I think it might put people on the defensive...which might get people trying to assert their "right " to whatever food.


Quote:
To help us with avoiding ____ in the classroom/lunchroom, the safest option is to consume ______products at home.


I think it made more sense this way. It stated that their was no ban in place, but to help keep a child safe, eat it at home instead of school. I think this way will have a more positive response. The other way would be better if their was an actual school supported ban in place.

_________________
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: Tue Oct 31, 2006 12:31 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 9:00 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Victoria, BC
I agree with Saskmommyof2, this sounds better and won't be considered "not appropriate" because they don't want to "ban" any food allergens:

Caroline2 wrote:

To help us with avoiding ____ in the classroom/lunchroom, the safest option is to consume ______products at home.

_________________
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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