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peanut free classroom

17 replies [Last post]
By pfmom2 on Wed, 10-11-06, 14:20

For those of you that have obtained through a 504 a peanut free classroom, how did you obtain it? I have a "note" from the allergist for a second year in a row that my child REQUIRES a peanut free classroom. The school district just keeps saying they can't do that. Have a 504 meeting soon. How would you approach this? The school is not technically peanut-free but parents are voluntarily asked not to send it in. I am comfortable at this point for it to be in the lunch room, but not to be in the classrooom for snack. Any suggestions? My child has had anaphylaxis and has had contact, airborne and ingestion reactions.
Is it an unreasonable accomodation to be a peanut-free classroom, that my child has the right to feel safe in the learning environment?

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By Greenlady on Wed, 10-11-06, 14:59

Well, I guess they can't guarantee "peanut-free" anymore than they can guarantee "drug-free" or "gun-free", but they can put rules into place to minimize the chances. For example:

Only labeled food in the original packaging allowed in the classroom.

No food with peanut or nut ingredients or warnings allowed in the classroom.

If a food that doesn't meet these criteria is mistakenly sent in, it will be held in the office until after school and then sent home.

Does this guarantee "peanut-free"? No, a kid could still smuggle in a Snickers. But it reduces the chances something will happen.

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By Carefulmom on Wed, 10-11-06, 15:06

Our 504 says no food to be eaten in the classroom unless okayed by me for class parties twice a year. Other than the two class parties, food is never allowed to be eaten in the classroom. That guarantees it to be peanut free.

[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited October 11, 2006).]

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By pfmom2 on Wed, 10-11-06, 15:26

Thanks for both your replies..
Greenlady, I understand your point to which the school principal has made the same argument. However, we need to be prepared for accidents or unforseen issues but they still can attempt to make it peanut-free as possible. But, why couldn't the school state the classroom peanut-free with a rule, such as "if your child comes to school with a peanut snack a peanut free one will be given in its place by the teacher, etc. Your child will be allowed to eat their peanut snack in the lunch room, etc... " I'll provide the peanut free snack to the classroom if need be. I understand the hindering others rights, but my child has the right to not fear getting severly sick or worse in the learning environment. Am I wrong?
Carefulmom, thanks for your reply. Actually our school has no food parties as of this year, so the only time there is food in the classroom is for snack and students bring it in from home.

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By Carefulmom on Wed, 10-11-06, 15:35

Then you could solve the whole problem and just stipulate no food in the classroom like I did (the two parties were the only times it was allowed---other than those two days there was never any food allowed to be eaten in the classroom). The thing I like about the way we did it is then you don`t have to have anyone policing the kids, checking their snacks, coming up with a contingency plan if the snack is a Snickers, etc. You just stipulate it a food free room, no snacks to be eaten in there and the problem is solved. Right?

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By pfmom2 on Wed, 10-11-06, 15:42

Hmmm, you are right, but do you take it completely away or press the peanut free snack (they are a young grade)? I am more worried about the obvious peanut snacks than the may contains, like M&Ms, pb filled crackers where it can get over everything and the smell would be within the classroom. My child has had asthma flares due to odors of foods.
This SD does little unless it is pushed or they make a grave mistake and it wont be at the cost of my child, KWIM!
Thanks for the thoughts they are helping to sought this through and make a plan!

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By Carefulmom on Wed, 10-11-06, 15:46

You don`t have to take it away; you just have them eat it in the cafeteria. Would that work?

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By Ohio on Wed, 10-11-06, 15:58

Our school did not like the peanut-free classroom idea at first, either. Similar reasons - no guarantees, too difficult to police, etc. We told them we understood there could be no guarantees, but that we wanted a safe environment where the risk of exposure was reduced.

For one of the next meetings we prepared our requirements if the room would not be deemed peanut-free - clean child's desk every morning, clean shared desks/tables every morning and following any snacks, clean keyboards, mice, manipulatives prior to child using them, teacher contacting us prior to using food in the lesson plans, etc.

The team (or maybe the principal and/or teacher) eventually decided the peanut-free classroom would be best (safer and easier to manage?), even if they had to deal with an occasional complaint.

One other thing is the school already has a "no soda pop" rule that they enforce, so this did not seem like such a stretch to enforce no peanuts.

For us, this took several months to resolve (we were meeting monthly about the 504).

Our child is not airborne allergic, but I would think the peanut-free classroom makes even more sense for your child.

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By pfmom2 on Wed, 10-11-06, 16:04

You must be in a much better district than us. I can certainly hear the laughs and the astounding NO if I suggest they eat snack in the cafeteria (they'll tell me they don't have time for that). Not saying I can't suggest it, but I sort of already know the answer. I am sure you worked really hard on getting your district on "your and your child's" side of this allergy. Unfortunately, for us, we are not in such a district, everything has been a "fight" and we've made progress. But, this is an issue I am not willing to drop because of the severity of my child's situation. She has already had issues in the classroom and this was last month (first month of school). Thanks again so much for all your thoughts as it is helping to see what others do! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Ohio, thanks for your reply. The class does do the wiping of tables, hands, etc. and maybe for may contains that would be good. However, like you said, for someone with airborne issues it's not enough. My child is exposed just through that and that is what I am trying to get through to the committee. Unfortunately, there aren't many research or studies to support this "airborne sensitivity" but I've seen it with my child many times. The second day of school she came out with hives on her arm. Coincidentally the same day a child ate pb filled crackers in the class.

[This message has been edited by pfmom2 (edited October 11, 2006).]

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By Carefulmom on Wed, 10-11-06, 17:37

Actually I did not work hard on the issue of the kids being required to eat in the caf. I said food free room, they said fine. There was not even any discussion about it. Isn`t that what the caf is for? I think it is sad if your district has an issue with it. I just don`t get it. (I am not doubting you at all, just don`t see why the district should have a problem with it.)

By the way, the no food in the room rule got violated only once during the 6 years dd was in elementary school. Dd was in 4th grade and we had a teacher who kept violating the 504. So anyhow, one day there was a field trip and when the kids got back to school the teacher allowed them to eat lunch in the room. I was there, and asked her to tell them to go to the caf, but she did not. THERE WERE CRUMBS EVERYWHERE when the kids were done eating. I would so not be comfortable with this. I cleaned all the tables myself. The allergist wrote a very stern letter to the school. I wrote a letter saying the 504 was violated and detailing the violation. The school saw the liability and had a meeting to address this which I attended. It never happened again.

Bottom line is, kids are messy, can every crumb really be cleaned up? Much better to have the kids eat in the caf. If your school is going to give you a hard time about it, that is really sad.

[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited October 11, 2006).]

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By saknjmom on Wed, 10-11-06, 17:51

I am facing a similar situation. We do not have a cafeteria. We have a gym that is used for lunch as well as gym class. This has been such a problem because the kids HAVE to eat their snacks in the classroom.

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By NicoleinNH on Thu, 10-12-06, 15:43


[This message has been edited by NicoleinNH (edited June 09, 2007).]

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By seanmn on Thu, 10-12-06, 16:59

My pa ds's school was very willing to have a peanut free room. In fact, the principal insisted on it. There is a sign on the door that says a Peanut/Nut free room. The kids take turns bringing in snacks for the whole class based on a "safe snack" list the teacher has and sent home to the parents explaining why we need to do this. No one has ever complained. Then she only has to check the one snack. My ds brings his own snack to school every day. I do not trust someone else bringing a snack for him even if it is safe.

The kids wash their hands when they come to school, before lunch, after lunch, and after recess.

If they do happen to make anything in school, Ryan's teacher checks with me first to see if all the ingredients, or whatever, are safe. So far they have only made cookies with a safe dough and frosting.

His religion class is the same way, the teacher brings the kids a snack based on the snack list and Ryan brings his own there too.

Like I posted before, his teacher does not have candy at Halloween, just non food special things. So, that is a relief in itself.

Good luck and don't give up. Maybe have another meeting with the superintendent or whoever, other than the principal, you can talk with. You have to give them information, printed, to back you up. Print out some stories of children having reactions at school. There are plenty out there.



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By pfmom2 on Thu, 10-12-06, 18:26

saknjmom...good luck to you with this situation as I understand the frustration.

NicoleinNH I agree keep rolling away, I don't care as long as my child is safe! Maybe peanut avoidant will be suggested.

Jan (seannm) thanks I have some printed info already. This district does not seem to care though unless you hire an attorney, so wish me luck, going in "me" against the whole committee. Hopefully I'll make headwave without having to hire anyone!

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By Jenna on Thu, 10-12-06, 18:39

Just wanted to add - our son is also airborne allergic. His classes through elementary school were always peanut free. The kids brought in snacks for the whole class. They dropped them off at a designated place to be checked. After they were checked, they were marked with a check mark and brought to the classroom. The teachers then had a whole cupboard of safe food. The teachers have handled it differently - some teachers had everyone eat the same snack, other teachers let the kids pick something from the cupboard. We still brought our own snack- so we knew that even if there was some kind of slip up (we didn't have may contains either) he would still be eating a safe snack. Many times he had the same snacks as the other kids - sometimes he did not. This system worked well for us for all the elementary years. There were not many times that snacks got rejected as unsafe but if they did, they hadn't even entered the classroom yet. Hope this helps.

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By Greenlady on Thu, 10-12-06, 20:41

Hi - I think you might have missed the second part of my post? I definitely agree that they can make rules to make the room "peanut safe." Here are my suggestions:

- Only labeled food in the original packaging is allowed in the classroom.

No food with peanut or nut ingredients or warnings allowed in the classroom.

If a food that doesn't meet these criteria is mistakenly sent in, it will be held in the office until after school and then sent home.

If you want to provide an alternative snack for the kids who bring the wrong thing, that could be a bonus.

Hope you get things settled soon!

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By pfmom2 on Sat, 10-14-06, 10:37

Thanks Greenlady I do understand and I agree safeguards can be put into place. Recently had meeting and all the principal did to my child's 504 was recreate it how the principal wanted it. Nothing to do with addressing what we should have addressed. The principal took away safeguards that were put in place last year. So, on to the next step, not sure but not going to allow what the principal did to happen. So in other words the meeting was horrible.
Jenna I tried to bring up those suggestions and they were immediately shot down, citing what about any child who is allergic to all other things. I told them, well then you can have any parent who has an allergic child "ok" that snack. They just don't want to do anything in the classroom and continue to have it in the classroom and tell me my child is fine that so far my child has not had a problem. I really don't care if it's been ok, not waiting for an accident to happen, ok, vent over!

[This message has been edited by pfmom2 (edited October 14, 2006).]

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By pfmom2 on Mon, 10-16-06, 14:56

New concern... Can a school adminstrator tell another parent about the goal of your child's meeting to another parent? Got some good information from this conversation, but doesn't that go against my child's right to privacy?

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