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Any experience with Hagerstown, MD- Washington County schools

16 replies [Last post]
By PennMom on Tue, 06-12-07, 15:40

Does anyone have any experience with elementary schools in Hagerstown, MD- Washington County or Frederick, MD? Thanks!

[This message has been edited by PennMom (edited June 12, 2007).]

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By PeanutFreeInMD on Wed, 06-13-07, 02:14

I am in Frederick County, MD. DS with PA is in Kindergarten (3 more days left!!!). This is a good school system and the town we live in is known for its great schools in particular. As far as food allergy awareness goes...hopefully it will get better. We pushed for a peanut free table at lunch and got it. Didn't have too many probelms till his teacher went on maternity leave in Feb., then it seemed like it went down hill from there. Not just in his class, but bus issues also. In beginning of year they wouldn't "make" the driver carry meds. Then we had an incident happen and got new driver who does carry my DS's meds now. Right now there is a policy in this county that students can not carry any meds on them at all - period. I am really hopeful we can get that changed eventually also. DS is too young to do epi himself now, but by 2nd or 3rd grade I am hoping he is able to. Then I will take up that issue also. I just nominated our school to receive a free educational kit through FAAN. The principal called today to thank me for doing so. That is a good sign.
As far as Washington County...I am not sure. I do have a friend that lives in Boonsboro area. Her kids do not have food allergies, but I could ask her if she knows how they handle it.

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By selketine on Wed, 06-13-07, 04:47

Quote:Originally posted by PeanutFreeInMD:
[b] Right now there is a policy in this county that students can not carry any meds on them at all - period. [/b]

I'm in Montgomery Co, MD and I was just curious about this. What about a diabetic who wears an insulin pump? There is certainly prescription medication in that (an insulin pump is attached to the child by a sub-Q infusion set and pumps insulin continuously 24 hours a day) and I can't believe they wouldn't allow the child on the bus or in the school.

What about children with asthma who carry inhalers?

I was just trying to think of some ways that -if you were told this is the policy - that it cannot possibly be true. Is that policy online by any chance? I'd like to see it. My son who is PA/TN allergic is also a type 1 diabetic. It is not uncommon here in our county that a child carry the epipen on their person.

The MD state school nurses guideline also mentions the student carrying it on their person: [url="http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/NR/rdonlyres/6561B955-9B4A-4924-90AE-F95662804D90/8465/AnaphylaxisorSevereAllergicReactions.pdf"]http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/NR/...icReactions.pdf[/url]

I hope you get that worked out!

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By PeanutFreeInMD on Wed, 06-13-07, 10:56

Hi selketine! We used to live in Montgomery Co. (Germantown) but moved up here to Frederick in 2001. Hubby still works in Mont Co. Maybe we should have stayed after reading your email...
This "no student carries meds" rule has been drilled into my head since beginning of year by nurses, teachers, and the principal. In April, after a teacher in bus duty handed my son jelly beans (he asked if there were peanuts in it and she said "no" but come on! )I was very upset. My DS was in line to get on bus where there would not have been access to his epi if he had had a reaction. I thought we had a pretty good case for allowing an epi to be in his back pack after this. No, principal still refused. Referred me to the county's Health Specialist who I thought I made some headway with...I was wrong. The solution she came up with was for me to hand epi to bus driver and bus driver to hand it to aid at school, and vice versa in afternoon. (It has worked out-I'll take what I can get!) I did ask about if children with asthma could carry inhalers....was told "no, they can't." (I was told they can't even carry eye drops by my eye doctor who thinks rule is absurd!). I've talked to one of the other Mom's with child with PA in Kindergarten who also has asthma and he is not allowed to carry inhaler. She also has 4th grader with asthma (no PA) and he does not carry inhaler. It upsets her very much. Believe me, I've tried to find an exception and so far have not. I didn't think to ask about a diabetics...and don't know anyone in that situation yet. Believe me, by the time my child is able to give the epi to himself (I am training him now, but he is only 5 and gets a little teary eyed a the thought of it-and I just ordered the E-belt so he gets used to having it on) I want him to wear it to school. I'll be fighting that battle eventually...

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By MimiM on Wed, 06-13-07, 13:18

We live in Baltimore County and my DS has carried his Epipen since 1st grade. I don't know what the specific laws are in Baltimore County but they are allowing him to do it. I had his allergist send a letter to the school stating why it was important for him to carry it and that it posed no harmful risk to others.

I would have your allergist do the same and see what happens. If this doesn't work I would fight for this to change in Fredrick County. It's already changing over in many other states as well.

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By selketine on Wed, 06-13-07, 13:28

I can about 100% guarantee you that if they tried to keep a child on an insulin pump out of school or off the bus because they are carrying a medication then it would not stand. I have heard a lot of things and I've never heard that rule.

I looked up the Frederick Co. Public Schools info and this is from the school system itself - they have a policy on students with Epipens:

G. EPIPENS are to be stored in a clearly labeled, secured accessible area.

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By PennMom on Wed, 06-13-07, 14:36

Thanks guys for all the help. I've called the Washington Co School board and am waiting for a call back- so all your information and links is helpful. After I get them to answer my questions then I'll move on to the Franklin co School board and ask the same questions.

Does anyone know the answers to the following questions for Frederick county (or at least your school in Frederick county)-
Are there any Peanut free classrooms?
Do you have a full time nurse at your school?

DD will be in kindergarten (which I understand is mandatory in MD- it isn't here in Pennsylvania)- so I'm trying to get a grasp on MD guidelines so we can determine if a move is in our best interest (for job reasons). Thanks Again!

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By Donni on Wed, 06-13-07, 17:13

My to-date experience in Prince George's County, Maryland:

There are Peanut free classrooms. My son has had one since Kindergarten and he's now ending 3rd grade. In fact, no food enters my son

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By PeanutFreeInMD on Wed, 06-13-07, 18:03

Thank you selketine and MimiM for the info on carrying the epi pen in school in MD. I've printed off that link and will be sure to use it. Very interesting as I have been told no so many times by so many people. (Not to mention all the kids I know that can't carry inhalers...it's a real shame!) Now the only question is whether to hold this info in my back pocket until my son feels he could do the epi if he had to, or bring it up now. My son gets teary eyed and scared when we talk about it now, but I'm hoping the more we do the braver he will be. I'll have to think about this...
To PennMom (sorry the topic swayed a bit to my situation...)
In my DS's school in Frederick County this was the first year for full day Kindergarten (just my luck! I was very upset...I wasn't ready for that!). There were still some in the county that were half day this year, but it is my understanding that they will all be full day next year. In my son's school there are no peanut free classrooms. There was also no snack (I was shocked, but they keep those kids so busy there is no time to eat! The Mom above who said Kindergarten is not what it used to be is right!!! I was shocked at the amount of homework my child brought home and what they expect of them now). The only time they ate was at lunch in the cafeteria. Exceptions to this was holiday parties (I think there were 3 throughout year), and birthday celebrations. Every time there was a birthday my DS ate a treat I had provided only. For the parties I was fortunate enough to be there to volunteer, and asked by the teacher to provide the homemade snack so it would be safe. (I've gotten to be really good at making decorated sugar cookies..lol) There were a couple times throughout year they did something special with food (one comes to mind was Dr. Seuss's birthday), and the teacher was very good about calling me ahead of time to make sure what they were using was safe.
As far as nurses...in my son's school there is a full time "health tech" who is there always during school hours. There is also a nurse who is in and out between his school and 2 or 3 other elementary's.
One other thing to keep in mind about Frederick is the number of kids filling the classrooms these days. It's starting to get crowded in this area. Many new houses are being built in this area as people make the move further out of the DC area. In my son's class this year was 21. (We were very lucky to have 6 kindergarten classes too, some schools aren't so lucky!) One person we met in his art class who lives on the other side of Frederick (Walkersville area) had decided to put her DD in private school because there were going to be 33 kids in the class. Not to mention she disliked some other things about the school...
Just a head's up on that aspect of it too. If you think of any other questions let me know...

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By chanda4 on Wed, 06-13-07, 19:38

I think many school districts are finding just because the child carries the Epipen, doesn't mean they could administer. So if in fact you find out your son *can* carry it, also find out if he is expected to self administer or if an adult/teacher would still be delegated and trained. I just got it okay'd for my son to wear and epibelt next year(since they repeatedly said *NO* to him having one in class)....so his epipen will be in his Epi-belt but he is NOT expected to ever self administer(which any doc would say is impossible during a full blown anaphylaxic attack)....so if your son could just carry it but still have staff trained to administer. Once I explained that to my son(who also had a fear of the Epipen) he is willing to wear the belt because now he knows *he'll* never be the one doing the shot it self. Just an idea.....good luck!!!

Chanda(mother of 4)
Sidney-8 (beef and chocolate, grasses, molds, weeds, guinea pig & asthma)
Jake-6 (peanut, all tree nuts, eggs, trees, grasses, weeds, molds, cats, dogs, guinea pig & eczema & asthma)
Carson-3 1/2 (milk, soy, egg, beef and pork, cats, dog, guinea pig and EE)
Savannah-1 (milk and egg)
Foster Mom to
Cody-10 (seasonal/environmental allergies)
Jordan-6 (also seasonal and environmental)

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By selketine on Wed, 06-13-07, 20:28

The Frederick Co. school policy doesn't say the child has to be able to self-administer the epi in order to carry it.

I think if you have a letter from the doctor saying that it is doctor's orders that he self-carry it on his person and you have that policy I would stop trying to teach him how to self-administer and go with it now if you want him to self-carry.

I realize it is a tough situation but my son is also a type 1 diabetic (has been since age 2) along with the peanut allergy). He wears a pump and hasn't done shots in awhile but no way could he give himself a shot or put in his infusion set at this age. Most kids with type 1 aren't able to give themselves shots (with adult supervision even) until at least age 7 if not older. And they are WAY more used to shots than your son.

That is IMHO of course! You know your child best as to whether he is ready but I think at this age no one would expect him to be. I hope that the policy will help you get things in place for him and you don't feel rushed to teach him to self-manage.

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By Scooby on Thu, 06-14-07, 00:54

Actually, Maryland state law allows for students to self-carry asthma medicines and emergency breathing medication. Although not specifically stated, the law also applies to Epipens.

Here is the link to the state education statutes. Go to Title 7, Subtitle 4, then click on next until you reach 421.


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By PeanutFreeInMD on Thu, 06-14-07, 01:25

Scooby-This is very interesting to say the least. I'm printing that out also. Like I said above, I have talked to another mom with 2 children in grades K & 4th who both have asthma and she had been told they could not carry the inhalers on them. (She even tried to sneak one into the 4th graders back pack in the beginning of the year and a note came home...) Her child in K also has PA, so we were both complaining about the whole situation with not being allowed to carry meds on them.
Chanda-That is a very good point about my son wearing it, but not being expected to use it. Maybe that will help him get over his fear...this is such a tough thing to put these kids through....it just breaks my heart.
Thanks everyone!

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By Scooby on Thu, 06-14-07, 10:34

I suggest contacting your county's health department. They should have a division for school services. Get the proper paperwork from them - not your school nurse.

In my county, there is a form for authorization to dispense medication that must be submitted to the school health room in order for the student to recieve medicine, including Epi. The form has a section on epi and inhalers and wether they can be self carried.

According to the state law and my county's regulations, the child must have permission from a doctor to be able to self-carry. You cannot just send it in their backpack without a doctor's determination that the child is mature enought or fit to self-carry or self-administer,

That said, my 9 year old, like Chanda's, carries his own Epipen. However, his authorization plan specifically states that he is not expected to self-administer.

It sounds to me like your school is not up to date with current policy. Hopefully they are not purposely being difficult, just uninformed. This legislation is fairly new. It went into effect less than 2 years ago.


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By WaPoWriter on Tue, 06-03-08, 14:54

Hi there! I write for the Washington Post and I'm working on a story about how food companies view people with allergies as a growing niche market and wanted to talk to some locals that are dealing with food allergies themselves or their kids are.
If you don't mind being interviewed, you can send me a private message. Thanks!

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By Krusty Krab on Tue, 06-03-08, 18:26

Private messaging has been disabled on this site.

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By PeanutFreeInMD on Tue, 06-03-08, 18:56

Tried to send a pm but couldn't...

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