Nut Allergies in an open school plan
I am the mother of a non-allergic child. In the school that my daughter attends there are several children w/nut allergies. Our school is an open plan school. This means that there are no walls in the school except in the gym and administrative offices. There is one mother in the school who is demanding that the school have no food in the classrooms. This means no fresh fruit snacks in the morning, no birthday treats and no treat at holiday parties. This coming school year I am in charge of supplying the treats for parties for the whole school. I have talked with some of the other "allergy moms" to ask what their opinions are. They have put "treat" bins in their child's classroom so that if a treat comes in they get their own approved treat. I was told that the lunches would not go "nut-free" since they can make arrangements for the allergic children. I am personally against getting rid of the food in the classrooms. I feel that doing this is taking away from my child's nutrition (am snack) and ostrisizing these allergic children, because now no one can have food. I understand why the mom is asking for this, but I think that if we educate the children, staff and parents that we can all work together to make it a safe and fun learning environment for everyone. This mother has her own agenda. I believe she wants the entire school nut-free and refuses to educate anyone or come to a compromise so that she can get her way. We are a small school (about 230 students K-6)and she won't tell anyone what to look for on labels and what her child can and cannot have specifically, but is combative if something slips through. Unfortunately, she is now referred to as the "crazy nut lady". Where she might have had allies she has the majority against her now. All of this leads up to the fact that our school is open. Even if the school were to go completely nut free there is still no way to keep cross contamination contained. It would be different if we had actual classrooms w/walls, but we don't. Am I unjusified in wanting to keep food in the classrooms, but educating everyone to keep it nut free? Should this one person get her way (when the other allergy parents also want to keep the food)because she complains the loudest? Where does it end? I'm soooo frustrated with trying to come up with a compromise, when I'm told she will dismiss it out of hand because she wants no food. Am I wrong in thinking that if her child is that sensitive to nuts that maybe an open plan school is not the best environment for her allergic child? Our school district has an interschool policy so she could go to any of the schools in the district that have actual classrooms w/walls and doors. In that setting she could make the class nut free without affecting the entire school.My feeling after doing some research on it is that the only person you can trust to keep you safe is you. And all you can do is ask and educate the people around you to help YOU keep yourself safe. If the child is too young to educate other then it's up to the parents to do it. The world is not always an accomodating place. Give your child the tools for when he is older and you are not around anymore. Don't teach him that everyone is going to change for him. Teach him that all you can do is educate people to change rather than just demanding they change. That's for anything in life not just nut allergies. That seems to be what these other allergy moms are teaching their kids. I feel sorry for this child. To me it just seems that he is going to be ill prepared for the real world. Change doesn't happen when you stomp your foot and demand it. Wide spread change happens through education, acceptance and getting people on your side who empathize with your situation. Am I wrong?
I just feel like we're (parents of non-allergic kids) bending over backward to let the school know that we're willing to take extra steps to keep everyone safe and she just wants her way. I would love some guidance from anyone who has experience with an allergy in an open school plan or where allergic and non-allergic parents worked in cooperation with each other successfully.
Sorry if this rambles!