How concerned do we need to be about peanut residue on playground equipment at a K-6 school? We've never had a problem at public playgrounds and do not want to make an issue of this unnecessarily. Thanks.
I struggle with this question all the time and not only with playgound equipment. I wonder if all the handwashing that we make all the kids do after lunch is really necessary. I wonder if someone eats a peanut butter sandwich and then touches his desk, is he really going to have a reaction. I have asked every doctor we have seen and they can never give me a satisfactory answer to the question of how much risk my child is in from casually touching peanut protein. My son had his first anaphylactic reaction from touching peanut butter while making a bird feeder. Of course, he was immersed in it and he could have possibly rubbed his eyes with it. I have to assume that he is coming in contact with some peanut protein because we go everywhere and he touches everything.
At my school, I have a teacher specially assigned to him on the playground. This teacher is epi pen trained. My son is now in 5th grade and nothing has ever happened. I am sure that not every child cleans their hands plus children who do not attend the school use this equipment.
Now that my son is going into middle school, they are starting to question whether or not we still need to do these things. I question it also but am afraid to just ditch it. My doctor says that this wave of children with the severe allergies are writing the book so he has no answers.
I wish I had more to tell you. The only thing I can say is that up until this point, my son has never had a reaction from the playgound or casual contact with his peers.
Aztec- I read (in an allergy magazine at the allergist) that they are coming out with tests (that will soon be available withn next few years) to test more EXACTLY the level of peanut allergy... this test will be able to PINPOINT the EXACT proteins in the peanut yor child is allergic to (apparently YOUR child may be allergic to protein A and B, and another child may be allergic to just C)... and they hope this is a precursor to eventual immunotherapy. This kind of test will give you a better idea if touch on playground or shared equipmet is a threat- or if it is more IMMERSION type of thing like the birdhouse project had been. I wish I can remember what it the test is called, but your allergist may know.... or you can check this years 2012 Allergy (Allergy Today?) magazines for the article.... as it was a fairly recent magazine.
Your post is most helpful. We are writing our first management plan for kindergarten next year and do not want to ask for unnecessary accomodations. But as you say, nobody really knows how dangerous some of these situations are.
Good luck with middle school!
We have had two pretty traumatic (one epi, one "your son isn't responding -- where do you want us to go from here" -- only *one* hive visible in that one) episodes related to playgrounds/parks.
Please do consider it a necessary accomodation. Even trace exposures add up -- and if the school will work with you on this one, you may well be keeping your child from increasing in sensitivity down the line. It can also be difficult to readdress the topic later on, if a problem develops.
(We have run into situations where it is difficult for people to understand that we have had to tighten our "comfort zone" in light of M's increasing sensitivity. He did not have contact reactions to begin with -- has now had several -- and they can't fathom why things that used to be safe for him just aren't an option for us at this point -- best example being playing at the local indoor kids' playground with climbing tubes, ball pit, shared trikes and so forth. We went last year, but wouldn't dream of doing so now. From their perspective, if he lived through it the first time, it ought to be okay!)
Just my .02.
[This message has been edited by M'smom (edited March 20, 2002).]
This is a very hard one. I don't want to take anything away from what M'smom said because her son has clearly experienced very scary reactions from playground situations. At the same time, I do think it is useful for me to share my perspective as a mother whose child has not had any problems at all. My pa and tna daughter is 7, and she has never reacted from a play ground anywhere. She freely plays at school, parks, indoor playgrounds, etc. And she had never had any problem at all. She is not the best one for handwashing, either, as much as I try. I think that some kids are more sensitive than others. It's tough, because you don't want to take any chances with your child's safety. At the same time, you don't want to place unnecessary restrictions on your child or the other children, either. I certainly do wish peanuts (and nuts) would disappear off the earth (or at least from schools!) so we wouldn't have to worry about this stuff so much. Since that is not likely to happen, we just have to decide whatever seems best for our child. I feel fortunate that my daughter is managing so well, and my heart goes out to those pa children whose lives do need to be more restricted than hers does. Good luck, Miriam
p.s. In case it seems relavent to you, my daughter was recently classified as a class 5/6 on the Cap RAST test for peanuts.
I will also add my 0.02 worth... our daughter is not yet school-aged, but we have taken her to parks and playgrounds (including school playgrounds) where the odds are pretty good of there being at least some pn residue on equipment. She also has never had a problem... but we are very cautious about that statement, because she is both contact and aerosol sensitive. She has reacted to tiny amounts of cross-contaminated products that the company maintains are IMPOSSIBLE to be contaminated (not on shared lines, etc.). She is the only child I have ever heard of to react to pn residue on library books...she had an aerosol reaction at the zoo, for heaven's sake! So if we have never had a problem, I suspect it is only a remote possibility.
At the same time, I would also be reluctant to "relax" an existing safeguard for your child. I would als consider asking your child how he feels about this precaution. Is it making him feel awkward at this new stage in his life?
Tough choice! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Didn't mean to sound like the grim reaper in my above post! My primary thought was just that if they are willing to accomodate, it's one less thing to worry about, now or later.
For us, things changed significantly last summer/fall. We had been reaction-free for over a year, and then suddenly had three reactions in two months' time. Especially hard because we had just moved to our new home, which we chose in huge part because of its proximity to a wonderful park/playground. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]
M had played there many times while we were house-hunting, and absolutely loved it.
Now, a few months later, after going through a period of time where M didn't even *want* to go to the park (the epi incident was pretty traumatic for all three of us), we have started going back occasionally. The epi-bag ALWAYS goes with us (DH previously felt that our house was close enough -- two hundred yards or so away -- for him to leave it inside the front door - not!), M wears gloves (cold weather has helped us there) and has a bath as soon as we're home again. I'm also adamant about not playing there in the twilight -- if anything starts, we need to be able to SEE it.
From our perspective (which is pretty conservative right now), required handwashing would go a long way in giving us some extra peace of mind. Nothing is 100% foolproof, but it's a relatively simple thing to do.
Questions you may want to ask (or find out about on your own) as you are making your decision: What activities/items are part of the playground arrangement at the school? Are there items like tricycles or jump ropes where the contact is in a definite spot (handle/handlebars)? Shared toys in a sandpit? Are those items ever cleaned?
Is there a drinking fountain? Will there be a monitor for your child such as Miriam mentioned? Will that individual have a cell phone at hand if your child needed emergency help? Is there a place where the epi can be kept cool if you're in a hot climate?
You have probably thought through many of these already -- my mind is just going overtime tonight!
Best wishes --
*For what it's worth, M's RAST score actually dropped from a 5 to a 3 (on the comparable scale) during the year which included those three reactions.
[This message has been edited by M'smom (edited March 21, 2002).]
BS312: When we were writing our school management plan for the section 504, the playground was a concern for me as well. Included in my daughter's plan (who also is in kindergarten)is that the aide carrys a walkie talkie on the playground in case of an emergency. As for the handwashing, only kids in her class have to wash their hands after lunch and snack before going to their class. My daughter uses anti-bacterial wipes before she eats lunch and snack. Regarding Sue's question about the water fountain, which is a very good point, my daughter is not allowed to drink from any fountain. She brings a water bottle and has access to it throughout the day. I put more in the plan that may sound absurb to some but it's better to review it at a later date and remove some accomodations than to add them. I would be happy to mail you a copy if you'd like. Good luck and don't be swayed by the administration to remove any idea that your gut instinct tells you should be included in the plan.
Just another thought here... frequent handwashing also has the benefit of reducing communicable illnesses!! (It's just plain a good habit, regardless of the underlying reasons for it!) [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Ok i will give my 2 cents also. The way I view managing my daughter's allergy at school is it is all about reasonably reducing the risk. Is it reasonable ( to me) to wash everything on the playground ( balls, sand toys, jumpropes....) I don't think so. But an allergic child has to have a "safe zone" and at school, the safe zone should be the classroom. This means all efforts should be made to keep this room as allergen free as possible.
For us this means a nut free classroom, this means no activities for my daughter's class involving nuts at all, this means washing hands before entering the classroom following lunch, snack and first thing in the morning.This also includes a no tolerance on teasing, and a right to personally carry an epi-pen.
Will this make my daughter 100% safe? No.
Is my daughter ever 100% safe? No.
Does having a safe zone make her as safe as possible while fully partcipating in all school activiites? Yes.
For us, it is just all about reducing the risk.
I agree whole heartedly with your post. Our school is NOT peanut free (tho only certain classrooms are?!) & this drives me crazy! Indeed EVERY classroom SHOULD be safe! Not just one or two rooms here and there simply to show they COMPLY in SOME manner! ALL rooms, except the lunchroom should be peanut free. NO food should be OUTSIDE the lunchroom... period. I DO think the child should be an appropriate age to carry an epi-pen... as mine has already "shot" the back of a the car seat with one (when a relative was supposed to be watching him in teh car- an EXPENSIVE waste!)... but most certainly it should be kept in the classroom withthe TEACHER and the school SHOULD somehow have one provided for at least ONE playground and lunchroom staff. At OUR school they are kept in the nurses office and I do not trust that in emergency.
I also think there should be no tolerance on teasing. We went on a class trip and NO one sat with my son siting PEANUT ALLERGY. HE is seperated by having a special table with other kids with food allergy at school (which I am fine with)... but when on field trip- he is then "alone".... kids dont GET IT that if they DONT have peanuts in their lunch, they are WELCOME to sit with him!
I've read in other threads that Rachel's classroom is "may contain"-free. Have you been able to stick to this? Have other parents cooperated? Have there been any problems?
I have asked that my son's epi always be where he is. For his 504 I am asking for his teacher and aide to keep a close eye on my son and to also look around the grounds and if they see candy wrappers or whatever, to pick them up and get them to the trash. I asked as well, for them to wash their hands when they return. Just because my son might not have touched peanut residue doesn't mean someone else didn't. This way hopefully it would keep it out of the classroom. Our motto is this....We need to take care of the things we can do something about and be prepared for the things we can't. Let's face it with playgrounds....they are tough.
Just to clarify -- I by no means meant to suggest that the school should be asked to wash all the toys on the playground! I simply wanted to point out areas of concern -- places where it is likely that residue would, um, reside.
It *would* be, IMO, reasonable to request handwashing between lunch/snack time and recess, particularly if some students are, by school policy, eating PB -- as would be the case in a non-nut-free school.
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