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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2009 10:19 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:05 am
Posts: 650
Location: AB, Canada
Just wondering what your thoughts are on school size with relation to food allergies. I have my son enrolled in a pretty big elementary school next year, and a friend (without allergic kids) said that maybe I should look at another one since it's smaller. Would there really be a benefit to a smaller school? I assume policy and teacher/staff policies would matter more than school size, but maybe smaller schools could offer more personalized care.

Also, where does your school keep the epipens for the young kids? I had a long talk with the principal, he was very knowledgable and reassuring, but I was kind of surprised that the epipens are kept in the office, not in the classroom. I asked why this was and was told that this way, if there's an assembly or the kids are in gym or outside, everyone knows where they are, ie eleminating guesswork. Makes sense, but I really like having one in the room with him if food is being consumed. He'll ONLY have food from home, and will always come home at lunch.

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DSs 7,7,9 all PA


Last edited by Becky on Mon May 18, 2009 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 7:15 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:52 am
Posts: 214
I work at a smaller school, and our official policy is that we avoid nuts, but we share space with a church so could not guarantee that they follow this policy too. We actually have no kids with nut allergy this year. We do have one child with an epipen and allergy, and small school notwithstanding, policy on this has been erratic. Our principal seems to take her lead from the parents, and this boy's parents are very casual about it---sometimes he wears a bracelet, sometimes he doesn't etc. They have asked the parents to send him with an epi-pen belt and they won't do it. So there is an epi-pen in the office, and sometimes it gets brought out to the playground but most of the time it does not. I actually asked for clarification on this earlier in the year as I do have two playground duties with this child and I was told that maybe we should be bringing it out with us, but that the parents don't seem to care that much so how serious can it be?

In contract, I also work at a very large summer camp and they have quite strict allergy policies which are rigorously enforced. I remember one time a child was not allowed to join their group for an off-site activity because she had forgotten her epi-pen at home. The mother was very upset about this, but the camp stood by their policy and explained to her that if she had supplied the nurse with a spare epi-pen like she had been asked to, everything would have been fine, and they did not care to be blamed for her own non-compliance with the policy :)

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


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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 7:27 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6502
Location: Ottawa
Our school requests an Epi-Pen to be kept in the office. We also send our daughter with an e-belt (have done since JK). She keeps extra Epi's and asthma meds in her back-pack.

Our school is small so I have nothing to compare it to, but, I'd rather have a big school that 'got it' than a small one that didn't.

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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: Mon May 11, 2009 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:38 pm
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Location: Toronto
My son's school insists that the student carry one epi-pen *on their person*. My son wears an e-belt and has since jk.

A spare is kept in the office -- not locked.

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self: allergy to sesame seeds and peanuts
3 sons each with at least one of the following allergies: peniciilin, sulfa-based antibiotic, latex, insect bites/stings


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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 6:48 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:45 pm
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Location: Vancouver, BC
Ours is a small school which didn't have an official anaphylaxis plan until I met with the principal and started drafting one up for my dd who will be starting K in September.

Regarding epipen location, they currently have one child with PA and they keep his epipens in a locked cupboard in the school office, but I was told all the teachers know where the key is hidden. I am having my dd wear an epibelt with two epipens on her person at all times, and will provide 1 spare unit to be kept in the main office in an unlocked and marked cupboard. The principal is indeed taking the lead from me as the other parents are very relaxed about the situation. To each their own, I guess!

I can see your principal's point about keeping it in the office as opposed to the classroom, but are you also going to have at least one unit worn by your child? I'm worried about losing precious minutes while someone is running to the office and back to get the epipen after they realize the child is having a reaction and after they realize it's serious enough to warrant using the epipen.

If given the choice, I wouldn't necessarily go by small or big school, but rather one that already had an anaphylaxis plan in place and practiced, and would prefer a school where other parents had already 'paved the way' with their requests to keep their child safe so that I wouldn't be 'that crazy mother', which I think I am going to be perceived as being, because the other set of parents are so relaxed!

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DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 10:26 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 11:00 am
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On the child is the best way to go along with one in the office. Reason is that there are many substitutes at schools and they can not possibly know what children have health issues and where the epis/meds are located. You might think "Well, tell the subs" but it is not always feasible and it could be a sub from another class that finds your child in need of help.

A Medic Alert bracelet helps too! At First Aid class they told us to check for a medic alert necklace or around the ankle but I think most people check the wrist first.

As my daughter has gotten older we place more reliance on her friends in that they alwyas know where her epi is located and they could tell an adult.

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me: allergic to crustaceans plus environmental
teenager: allergic to hazelnuts, some other foods and environmental


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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2009 7:06 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
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Location: Ottawa
I've been thinking about the smaller vs. bigger school issue.

In a smaller school, it is possible for all teachers to be familiar enough to be able to identify which students have medical conditions. In a larger school, this might not be possible.

In a larger school, statistics play a role and chances are your child will not be the only student at risk of anaphylaxis. This can be good or bad, depending on the comfort levelsof the other parents and what the principal has developed as an anaphylaxis policy.

It may be easier for a larger school to try to adopt a cookie cutter approach to individual plans and you might find resistance to changes as "they've never had a problem inthe past".

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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: Sun May 17, 2009 1:03 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 10:53 am
Posts: 207
Location: Winnipeg, MB
My feeling is smaller is better, BUT there are so many other things to consider when choosing a school for your child. Class size, programs, proximity (access to friends), etc. if all else is equal, then I'd go smaller.

One Epi on the child - that's a must. If your child can carry two, that's better.
One Spare Epi in the office - not locked, available to all staff. That's the backup plan.

I've also heard of a school that had spare one(s) of their own that were included in the first aid kits that the outside monitors (teachers or lunch supervisors) use. They felt it was too far to go from a playground incident to the office and back in case of emergency or anaphylaxis. It's a great idea. Not sure where they got the funding for it and wish I could remember what school.

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adult son allergic to peanuts, most tree nuts, eggs and penicillin.


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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 1:11 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:45 pm
Posts: 809
Location: Vancouver, BC
Our school is considering buying a spare epipen to keep in the office in the event there is a child who forgets theirs or for whatever reason doesn't have one, and needs it. I'm not sure if there are legal implications, though.

For instance, what if there is a child with a history of only mild reactions to a certain food, and was told by a doctor they don't need to carry an epipen. Then they have an anaphylactic reaction and a staff members uses the epipen on them. If it saves their life, then everything's fine, but what if it turned out to be something else, like asthma, and the parents think the epipen should never have been given because it turns out the child has a heart condition? Maybe I'm thinking too far ahead, and it doesn't really concern my children, but anyone think this might be an issue?

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DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 6:59 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
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Location: Ottawa
It could be that they are concerned about student who should have an Epi-Pen but whose parents are unable to afford a spare one.

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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: Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:47 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:05 am
Posts: 650
Location: AB, Canada
Thanks for all of the replies, he's still enrolled in the larger school, but I'm also considering options. Both schools are in the same school district, so the have the same official policies. However, when calling in, the receptionist at the smaller school makes things sound better 'we make sure etc...', the larger school says 'we have policies in place, but can't gurantee 100%...'. Is the larger school not taking is seriously, or are they being more realistic? Also, does the way the receptionist convey the policy ACTUALLY have any bearing on how safe the school is?

I spoke at length a few times with the princpal of the larger school, and felt very good about things, but just read in the paper that he has retired!! I tried to get a hold of the Kindergarten teacher to discuss classroom policies etc.. but she is on mat leave til the end of August.

Instead of talking to parents of non ana kids (which I have been doing, and not finding terribly helpful), I'm going to contact someone at the school board and see if different schools in the district have different approaches to anaphylaxis. I (somewhat) know him socially, so I'm hoping to get an honest answer. Wish me luck!

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DSs 7,7,9 all PA


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 3:27 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 11:00 am
Posts: 1119
Have you tried talking with anyone from the Parent Council? The parents that have been there a few years may give you more insight. And the school due to privacy may not tell you if there are other students with anaphylaxis plans but to council you could say "Could you please pass my name to any parents that might be able to answer my questions." and then it is up to the other parent whether they would call you. In my daughter's school those of us with older students gladly help out others with information and support.

Unfortunately any "plans" are only as strong as the administration, teachers and staff commitment to following them. However, it helps a lot to have the secretary supportive because they are the hub of the school and usually have a lot of influence with the admin and teachers. And they are often the first response for any situation at school so it really helps if they know you.

I do not think it is realistic for a secretary to say "we make sure" if it is regarding food brought in because do they actually inspect every snack/lunch every day? And do they actually read the ingredients on every item?? Not trying to scare you but I just don't see how a school can guarantee absolute allergen free--- they can educate, request and want it but guarantee it?

When it is a severe allergy, every school I have seen does take it seriously - I worked in 15 schools while subbing :)

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me: allergic to crustaceans plus environmental
teenager: allergic to hazelnuts, some other foods and environmental


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:40 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:05 am
Posts: 650
Location: AB, Canada
Thanks for your post walooet, I agree that a school can't guarantee 'peanut free', and I'm not sure that they should try. I *almost* feel more suspicious of the overreassurance, that some schools portray. It's good to know that you've worked in 15 schools and all took anaphylaxis seriously. Having your first child start kindergarten is stressful enough, the life threatening allergy takes it to a whole new level.

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DSs 7,7,9 all PA


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:42 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 11:00 am
Posts: 1119
Becky, I'm glad that it helped. I remember being nervous enough about Kindergarten and my child did not have any allergies! There were other students though so the kids got used to it quickly and were always supportive. I became an advocate for the kids with allergies which helped their parents --- then a year later my daughter got her epi-pen...

The one clarification I should make is that ALL elementary schools have taken it seriously.

The high school teachers that I have seen have a very wide range of attitudes...

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me: allergic to crustaceans plus environmental
teenager: allergic to hazelnuts, some other foods and environmental


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 4:11 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 4:22 pm
Posts: 79
Location: Houston, TX
Wow, that's something that I haven't really had to think about yet, but so true! At least you get to choose your school! In the states we have to go to a predetermined school.

Right now my ana dd is in preschool two days a week (which is private) and I adore them they are so awesome. They keep her epi at the front, but they are never more than 50 ft from her, so it's fine with me.

Next year (in 2010) she will be going to elementary and I am so glad that my 10 year old will be there. Talk about a allergy hawk! I trust this one to read labels and all she is great. She won't let anyone in the house with food unless it's been checked out. So at least they will be on the bus together and she will keep an eye out about the peanut free table at lunch. But I do get so worried about it all. I have found the nurse to be very uneducated about other matters and the principal seems to be rather....um....I can't think of anything good to say, lol. The nurse twice "felt" (older) dd's head to see if she had a temp. and decided she didn't. Both times I came up there with a thermometer and dd had 102!!! I'm like, "What day of nursing school did they teach you the thermo-hand technique?" So I really hate the idea of leaving all the allergies up to her. :( Please keep us updated about what you decide and how you are going about it, so I'll be ready next year!

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Daughter, 10 - NKA

Daughter, 3 - peanut, tree nuts, crustacean, dust mites, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, mangoes, mustard, and very mild outdoor allergies, eczema, asthma

Son, 2 - asthma, mild eczema, peanut, mild soy, mild egg


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