School peanut-free class reminder letters?

18 replies [Last post]
By leslief on Thu, 09-18-03, 23:17

How often/when do you send reminder letters to the other families of your peanut-free room?
We sent one out prior to the start of school and was thinking it would be good to remind before Halloween and then maybe again in January.

Do you have any samples of reminder letters you've sent?

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By dvanaken on Sat, 09-27-03, 00:31

We have agreed with the school nurse (K-6) and principal that "repeating the message" is essential. We do a letter in Sept, again before Halloween and Christmas and spring parties. Today our nurse sent around a letter informing parents of the risks of home-baked goods and set out guidelines to reduce the risk of cross-contamination, etc. We prohibit bakery products in all classrooms and all explicit peanut products in all activities except lunch. As of this year, the PTA cannot have any peanut products in any school activity (we had a near disaster at a "family dance" last year). Sorry, I'm rambling.. hope this answered your question!

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By cynde on Tue, 09-30-03, 01:26

Our principal puts reminders, with new information (it's all about education) in the school newsletter every month or two. The entire school is PN free, so this way the message goes out to every family with the other important school news.

__________________

Cynde

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By Nutternomore on Sun, 12-14-03, 08:00

Re-raising because I have the same question/need.

The school nurse would like to work w/us to send out an update/reminder letter in late Dec/early Jan. Audience is parents of Kindergarten children. Objectives include thanking all K parents for their efforts to date, and reminding them of risk reduction policy (plus any other good ideas that we might pick up [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ). Given the controversy that has been present at our school this year, we'd like the tone of the letter to be supportive and warm...showing them a sense of appreciation. Let me mention that this letter would be signed/sent jointly by the school and the district, rather than from us.

[b]Does anyone have any samples that they can share?[/b] Would appreciate either posting them here or e-mailing privately (if you prefer).
-----
Background:
We sent out 2 letters in Sept., one specific to parents of kindergarteners (peanut-free practices), and one to parents of the rest of the school. You can read them here:

[url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001142.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001142.html[/url]

[This message has been edited by Nutternomore (edited December 14, 2003).]

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By on Sun, 12-14-03, 20:24

Nutternomore, I had what I considered a really *good* letter that was written by another PA parent that I used at my son's school last year. This year, when I presented this very personal, and to me, touching, letter to the principal for approval for it to be sent out to my son's class, he nixed it and went with a standard board letter that actually had something about coconut being a problem, which it is not, unless you're allergic to coconut.

But it is a really nicely toned letter, I think. I'll try to find it.

Also, I presented him with a letter that Kathryn had posted on this board somewhere, now just where to find it that I thought was quite good as well.

Again, he didn't go with that one either.

Jesse's class, along with every class throughout North America this week I guess is having a Christmas lunch thing on Thursday and his teacher did send home a notice about the pot luck lunch and what each parent is required to provide. And she reminded everyone in bold lettering that it was a peanut free classroom.

I'll check my word documents and see if I still have that letter from the other PA parent on file and post it here later if I do.

Both children had some cash they wanted to spend at Zeller's (burning a hole in their pockets like it does their Father's [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) and it's a snowstorm here to-day. Remember, I'm Idiot Woman who doesn't drive [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/tongue.gif[/img] We also don't have buses that run here to-day.

So, I ask both children, could we please just go to the corner to the closest (and most expensive) grocery store and get their school food in for the week and go to Zeller's when it's not a snowstorm, especially given the distance of the walk and that it's a snowstorm.

No. They had to go to Zeller's. So, we walked and walked and they had a gleeful time playing in the snow on the way up there. Both purchased what they wanted, and my daughter actually came in under budget, with my son going over budget (he needed tax money) and then we had to go to the grocery store there. Well, you should have heard the crying on the way home, all the way home.

To top it off, in Zeller's, my son, 8, had left me and gone to another aisle in the toy department. His sister and I never left the Barbie aisle so he should have known where to find us. At any rate, no. Go to find Jesse and am calling him and no answer. Panic strikes me and they put out an alert for him throughout the store. He had realized he had gotten lost in Toyland (you have to know the weather is bad here if there is no one in Toyland on a Sunday just before Christmas) and went to the service desk at the front of the store to report himself lost. I was petrified.

Anyway, whatever that has to do with your request, I have no idea except to say that I'm still really cold, frozen more like it from the snow pelting my face and dripping down my back all the way home (couldn't keep my hood up carrying groceries), but I won't forget to check.

I'll also check the thread you posted to see if Kathryn's letter is in there. Otherwise, I'll do a search for that later.

Sorry to have gone into babble speak.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------

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By Nutternomore on Mon, 12-15-03, 00:32

Cindy,

Thanks for checking, I appreciate it.

We felt very good about the initial letters that went out at the beginning of the school year. (Link is in the prior post). I think it was easier to write that one than to do a follow-up letter; tricky to thank yet remind, especially in our situation. We don't want to get folks worked up again. It's important to acknowledge efforts by other families, but we wish the school had issued reminders during the year (via newsletter). So, since they haven't, it deserves some mention (BTW, it's also in our 504 plan that this reminder letter go out at this time).

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By Gail W on Mon, 12-15-03, 16:11

This is just a thought...

Would you consider sending a letter directly from you to the school [i]staff[/i]? in addition to the school sending a reminder to the families?

If you sent a letter (to the entire school staff, including all the teachers, secretaries, janitors, etc.), you could absolutely control the content. You could tell them directly how much you appreciate their efforts, how each one plays a valuable role, make a personal connection to some staff whom you've never met (and will be likely dealing with sometime in the future), underscore that it is they that make the school's policies work, the whole "we're all in this together" deal, and frame it in the context of "receiving a gift" from them everyday during the holiday season.

I'm just suggesting this because I learned that for *my situation* at *my school* it was better [b]*in the long run*[/b] not to "ghost write" and let them do it themselves. Ownership. It took a lot of self- restraint on my part not to do it for them. I know your intentions are to be helpful by giving them some examples... but, personally, I think it would be better [i]for you[/i] if they figured it out for themselves. Your letter to staff can be an example ("the model") of tone and phrases that they can pull from directly [i]if they wish...[/i]

Just IMHO

[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Happy Holidays [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Gail

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By becca on Tue, 12-16-03, 03:01

We are only in preschool, but the parents see a bright pink sign on every classroom door reminding then of the peanut/nut free status at the school. It is also mentioned, albeit small, on each newsletter, monthly. There has also been a single letter sent home recently rom the "stay and Play" program, where the kids actually have lunch if they do at all. This one was a helpful letter suggesting safe alternatives to PB lunches and healthy food options.

As far as I know, this year, this is all done by the school. Last year, i was more in touch and giving input, but am pleased with the "ownership" of it al this year. I did not like being attached too much to all the food policies last year. I really felt like that was a strong focus of my dd's school experience and of her teacher's last year. This year, I feel like she is a regular student in the class, but safe. Period. I like it that way.

becca

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By Nutternomore on Tue, 12-16-03, 20:45

GailW,

I totally agree w/your perspective about the need, [i]over time[/i], for the school to [b]own[/b] this.

I also think your suggestion about communicating with school personnel (i.e. a letter from us to them) is an excellent way to build bridges.

But, I also have to deal w/the immediate issue at hand.

The specific 504 plan language states "...A reminder letter will be sent after winter break thanking all families for the success of the new food practices and encouraging continued support. District office staff, parents, nurse, and school administrator will collaborate on development of the above letters.

If anyone has any samples, I'd love to seem them. In the meantime, I will post whatever we ultimately use. The district nurse (new player in the game since development of 504) is exhibiting some leadership on the issue and we want to be responsive (i.e. get something to her ASAP)...

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By MommaBear on Tue, 12-16-03, 23:37

Quote:Originally posted by Nutternomore:
[b]GailW,

I totally agree w/your perspective about the need, [i]over time[/i], for the school to [b]own[/b] this. [/b]
I believe to "own" something implies a degree of responsibility. Maybe even the terms could be considered somewhat equivocal.

Responsibility in this situation translates to me as a "Higher Standard Of Care" in part indicated by (or caused by ----not sure --- chicken or egg deal) "ownership" which in turn can be possibly related to "Understanding" and in part "Duty". Could one then arrive at the conclusion necessary player need be present? Am I wrong?

Quote:Originally posted by Nutternomore:
[b]GailW,
The district nurse (new player in the game since development of 504) is exhibiting some leadership on the issue and we want to be responsive (i.e. get something to her ASAP)... [/b]

[i]exactly what I am talking about[/i].

__________________

"Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity."

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By helenmc on Thu, 12-18-03, 16:36

Interesting that you guys as parents need to publish the notes to class members and their families.... I guess because I'm PA and the teacher, my kids get notes about it all the time!! I would think that teachers and schools ought to be supporting you with this though - it has more of an impact if it comes from the staff, or even the principal!?

I always send out a note to the families in my class on the first day of school introducing myself, my interests and what I hope to teach the children during the year. It's a friendly piece with my photo etc and it also asks that the parents not send any nuts or food that contains nuts with their children for recess / lunch. (I'm OK with them eating "may contains", I just can't eat those products!). It explains briefly why this is important, without trying to scare them, and asks them to come and meet with me during that first week so I can get to know them and answer and questions.

This is supported by my school publishing a reminder to the whole school community in the first newsletter of the year. The new enrollments, including all Knidergarten parents are also sent a nice letter of explanation about our "Nut-Free" school.

The canteen then publishes it's list of available food and advertises nut-free goodies for sale.

Every term I send out reminders for children to collect lost property, remember their library books, buy new pencils etc etc and also take the opportunity to thank the families for looking after me by remembering not to send in nuts etc.....

The reminders are also followed up in our newsletters (about every month or so we have a "Nut-free" story, such as suggested snacks or lunches, or educational info about what to do if you know someone with allergies etc) and the canteen lists, which are changed according to season (soups and pies in winter, salad rolls and iceblocks in summer!).

I've found that this general 'culture' of being aware of my needs, and also those of our PA students, helps the parents to remember how to look after us and also doesn't make it too much of a "directive". This approach has all but stopped complaints from parents who feel their rights or their children's rights to eat what they like are being violated.

It does concern me however, that we only focus on the PA needs, and haven't looked at other allergies. I will have to look into that next year!

Hope this helps, and if you'd like copies of the letters / notes / newsletters etc please email me. I'd have to spend a bit of time looking for them in amongst all my other 'school stuff' on my hard drive :-)

Cheers!

Helen xox

__________________

Helen

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By Nutternomore on Tue, 12-30-03, 06:05

Re-raising once more just to see if anyone else may have a sample letter that they could share...

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By Jodi2boys on Tue, 12-30-03, 14:10

Quote:Originally posted by Nutternomore:
[b]Re-raising once more just to see if anyone else may have a sample letter that they could share...[/b]

REMINDER LETTER

TO: Parents & Guardians of students in Miss Brown and Mrs. Conway

__________________

Mommy to
Jake~ 7 yrs. old- allergic to peanuts, cat/dog dander and dust mytes.

Sammy~ 5 yrs. old- NKA

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By MommaBear on Tue, 12-30-03, 14:52

Quote:Originally posted by Jodi2boys:
[b]

____________________________________________
Signature of Principal/Nurse/Coordinator[/b]

Collaberation. Multidisciplinary Approach. Authority/Licensure/Credentials.

__________________

"Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity."

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By Nutternomore on Tue, 01-27-04, 07:33

We all got sick during the holidays, so we never got to draft a reminder letter for the school.

Turns out to be a good thing, because lo and behold, they took [i]ownership[/i] and drafted one on their own. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

(I'll bet Gail W. is smiling after reading that line!)

Here's what was sent out to all Kindergarten parents from the principal.
------------
Dear Kindergarten Parents,

I wanted to write to all of you and review our current "Peanut and Tree Nut Policy". First of all, I want to thank all of you in helping us carry out this policy. Many of the challenges presented have been successfully carried out with much success. Once again, the Xxx Xxxx community has demonstrated why you are all so special.

We are still continuing our hand washing procedures. The students have hand washing down to a routine and we certainly can claim our students have clean hands. We still have our designated "Peanut and Tree Nut Free Zones". These areas and tables are labeled. We still are telling our students that food is not shared. In class, the teachers continue to stress the life skills of caring, friendship, cooperation, and responsibility. These classroom lessons help in so many ways!

We continue to ask that parents not send any peanut or tree nut products with their students. On occasion, we have found a few items that need not to be sent. We have notified parents in these circumstances. Remember, reading a food label can be helpful in knowing if the product contains nuts, nut oils, etc. (I have learned a lot from reading many breakfast and cereal bars!) Remember, you can call the classroom teachers, or the office staff, if you have a specific question about sending a snack or celebration food. If we don't know the answer, we will try to find out.

I want to thank my kindergarten teachers for their support and extra effort in making this policy work. They have been terrific! Our school custodians and our health assistant have diligently inspected and kept these areas clean. I want to especially thank Xxxx Xxxx, the health assistant, who has done a wonderful job in hleping us implement needed procedures. She has also assisted al of our students in Mrs. Y's room with educational assistance. She is also a tremendous support in supervising all K students out on the yard.

As we stated in the fall, we will be timely in our communication to all of you regarding our policy and procedures for next year. We have already begun discussion and action planning. You will have an update before the end of this school year. Your xxx xxxx Site Council has also asked our Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Xxxx Xxxx, if our community will be informed in a timely manner. He and I assure you that that will happen.

I am so proud of our kindergartners. I have had the pleasure of watching them so many times this year: in their quest to learn to read, in their perseverance in crossing the balance beam, in their clever responses to the numerous "teacher" questions, and in their sheer joy of romping on the play structure. We have a great class with us for the next five and a half years! Thank you for all that you are doing.

If you have any questions and or concerns, please let us know.

Sincerely,

Xxxxx Xxxxxxxxxxx
Principal

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By ryan's mom on Tue, 01-27-04, 12:16

Our principal's original letter was given to me by him to critique it before sending it out. I posted it here a pa.com and it was given very close scrutiny by the members here with several suggestions for improvement. I printed out the entire thread and gave it back to him. He was very appreciative and mentioned he "...has very thick skin..." so criticism doesn't bother him. It was actually very helpful.

Our letter goes out once at the end of August and is slightly revamped every year. At the present time, when the teacher needs boxed snacks sent in from parents for her monthly supply, she reminds all parents once a month with the list of appropriate classroom snacks, and which safe ones have been big hits with the kids. Then once all those boxes and bags come in, I go in and scrutinize the ingredient listing of everything, marking with a permanent ink pen an X or a C right over the ingredient label. For the one or two people with thick skulls with lots of air in their heads, we just trade any offending boxes with an appropriate snack from the kindergarten classroom OR send it back home.

Homemade stuff for birthdays are either turned away at the door OR taken to the cafeteria to be distributed to the non peanut-free tables.

Since I ALWAYS expect a few people to "forget" that it's a peanut-free classroom on holidays, I manage and organize all classroom parties, and call parents for party supplies and include my no-peanut speech in a very nice way. Even so, one or two parents will bring in the obvious unsafe things so I take those things over to the breakout room (a classroom with half walls) and put the food items in plastic baggies, then in paper bags with other party things that were sent in. Those bags are dropped in the students' backpacks (not Ryan or Girl X's bag, of course) as they are exiting the classroom to go out to the buses.

We have to anticipate these things at holidays, and instead of raising a big stink about it, we just try to deal with it in the safest, and most positive way possible. I will say this, though. I hate going to another classroom with offending food and touching it. I'm very careful not to wipe my hands on my clothes and head straight for the bathroom and wash my hands at least three times with soap and water. But this is what I do to avoid making a big deal about ignorant people during the holidays.

So if you are lucky enough to have much control about what goes on in the classroom and time to help implement safe procedures, it goes a long way to keeping that peanut-free classroom as peanut-free as you can get, along with any monthly reminders.

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By ryan's mom on Mon, 02-02-04, 15:06

This is a verbatim sample that goes homes from the teacher every month. Just received this one on Friday, and the wording may slightly change every month based on the previous month's snacks.

SNACKS

Dear Parents,

We will be having a morning snack everyday. Due to peanut allergies in our classroom, I am asking you to send in one of the following snack items for the month of January. Pleae be sure the snack is in a sealed and unopened package that lists the ingredients. It would be helpful if you could glance at the ingredients list to make sure that it doesn't say "may contain traces of peanuts." The snack you send in should be enough for 25 children. Please return the item as soon as possible!

Thank you for your cooperation,

Mrs. X

Graham crackers
Saltines
LARGE Ritz crackers (regular/cheese/wheat)
Pretzels
Popcorn
Teddy Grahams
Nilla Wafers
Oreos (vanilla or chocolate cream)
Butter cookies
Small goldfish
Oysterettes
Cheez-it Crackers
Fig/Fruit Newtons
Cheerios
Trix
Kix
Life (plain or cinnamon)
Frosted Mini Wheats
Rice Chex
Corn Chex
Honeycomb

Other things do come in that are not on the list or are generic, but as long as there are no peanut warnings on the ingredient label and are sealed, that's okay with me. Again, Ryan doesn't eat what others send in, only eating the same items on the list that came from our packages opened at home.

Any items with warnings or may contains are sent back home or traded with the Kindergarten classrooms.

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By Gail W on Mon, 02-02-04, 16:14

Quote:Originally posted by Nutternomore:
[b]Turns out to be a good thing, because lo and behold, they took [i]ownership[/i] and drafted one on their own. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

(I'll bet Gail W. is smiling after reading that line!)[/b]

[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]

I think it's a wonderful letter. Do you like it? Has the school received any feedback from parents on it?

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By Nutternomore on Mon, 02-02-04, 16:33

Gail W,

I think it's pretty good, and the fact that they took [i]ownership[/i] is really the point (your point, that is....)

Haven't heard any feedback from the parents, but I suppose that's good news. Certainly no immediate vocal reaction [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

I'll have to go an update my other thread to discuss recent developments at the school. Things seem to be moving in a positive direction...

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