At What Age Would You Consider Not Having Peanut Free Classroom for Your PA Child?

Posted on: Fri, 11/15/2002 - 5:42am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This question actually occurs to me to-day after I found a "may contain" item in the garbage in Jesse's classroom and had to come home and e-mail the teacher about this violation (if you will) of his school plan.

Jesse will be 7 in December. This is his fourth year in school and he has had a peanut free classroom each year. Currently, in Ontario, he is able to have a peanut free classroom, as far as I can tell, until he completes high school.

As I was writing the e-mail to the teacher about the may contain item I found and another thing that had happened, I realized that perhaps I shouldn't bother saying a thing. The children are *supposed* to be washing their hands (are they?) and it was a "may contain" item. So, what's the harm?

The harm, for me, is that in my school plan for Jesse, I do require that no may contains be brought into his peanut free classroom.

So, then I'm thinking further down the line.
Are there any people out there who did have peanut free classrooms for their children when they were young (i.e., starting school at age 3, like Jess) and as your child got older you decided it was okay not to have one?

I understand that I am supposed to be teaching Jesse somehow to navigate through this peanut full world. If I require a peanut free classroom each year (which I may very well do, simply for my own sanity), I question if that is helping him when it comes to dealing with the *real* world.

So, I guess my question would be, for other people that have had the peanut free classrooms and now don't, how old was your child when you decided they didn't need the peanut free classroom anymore and what factors went into your decision?

Or, I know there are a lot of people posting here that have never had that requirement. Could you kinda explain to me why you felt comfortable with this decision and what age your child is and was?

I know that I require this for Jesse right now. I also know that I was perfectly within my right to e-mail the teacher just now, but I have to say, it does have me thinking.

Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]


Posted on: Fri, 11/15/2002 - 10:09am
mharasym's picture
Joined: 04/20/2001 - 09:00

My son is in grade 5 (10 years old) and still in a peanut/nut free classroom. Children are, however, allowed to bring "may contain" or "made if a factory with" products. The children all eat in their classroom, at their specific table groups. There is no common eating area. My rationale (for the "may contain" thing) has always been that I want to reduce the real risk of harm should he come in contact with these products. I personally don't feel that the risk associated with a "may contain" product in my child's presence is a real danger to him. Eating a "may contain" is a totally different thing than breathing or touching residue.
Next year, grade 6, new school (Junior high 6-9). We really have no choice. He will not have a peanut allergy classroom, as the children are welcome to eat whereever they want, bring whatever they want, even go to the store down the block or McD's or KFC. Basically, we lose control. The only good thing is that there isn't food allowed in the classroom so sharing desks won't be an issue. Just everywhere else will be! Does this make me nervous? You bet your booty. I've started by teaching all his friends about using the Epipen (they've all had training for 5 years on signs to watch for, what to do, etc., but actually using a trainer pen is new for them). I've also started giving Stephen more control over his own environments - going to the store with a friend or by himself, knowing that he needs to start making safe choices. I hope, trust and pray that the kids who are his friends will continue to respect his allergy and refrain from bringing products that are dangerous to him from school next year. My fear is that it becomes a "finally, free from the ban" campaign and everyone of them brings PB&J and Reese's to school everyday.
I know Stephen will make the right decisions about what is safe to be around and what is not. He is very mature and responsible for his age. He's the one that reminds me sometimes when I've had mayo for instance (he's egg allergic as well) and try to kiss him goodnight. We can't keep them in a bubble and I guess if I had my choice I'd have waited until high school to have this situation, but unless we change schools (outside our area or go private) this is what we need to deal with.
Anyway, hope this gives you some food for thought.

Posted on: Fri, 11/15/2002 - 10:47am
Going Nuts's picture
Joined: 10/04/2001 - 09:00

This is Kevin's first year in a non-peanut free classroom, and things are working out just fine. His buddies are very protective of him, and if someone brings in peanut anything they alert him right away. So far keeping the room ventilated and handwashing have been working well (knock on wood, poo-poo-poo).
He still eats at a peanut free table in the cafeteria.
[This message has been edited by Going Nuts (edited November 15, 2002).]

Posted on: Fri, 11/15/2002 - 11:52am
kelly01's picture
Joined: 03/19/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy:
My son who has a peanut allergy is turning six and in kindergarten. In preschool we had a peanut-free room (but we did allow "may contains"). This year in kindergarten we did not request a peanut free room.
I have few reasons for this
1)my main reason for peanut free in preschool was that the kids were SO messy. Also their preschool supplied the snacks. Therefore every child was eating the same thing, and I didn't want a room full of peanut/nut products. Kindergarteners, although still young, are much cleaner than preschoolers. Also, they bring in their own snacks, which are supposed to be quick and easy. Most kids bring in fruit snacks or graham crackers, etc.
2)The second reason is a little more complicated. I have been struggling with what is more of a liability to my son: having possible peanut products around him (although teachers, etc are aware and make sure proper handwashing/table washing is taken care of) or making everyone so aware of his allergy that it COULD be used against him. I am probably not putting this the right way, but after reading so many posts on this sight, where kids are threatened by other kids with peanut products, I almost think my son is safer if HE (and teachers, at his current age) worry about the peanut allergy and leave the rest of the kids out of the equation. Now, I don't keep his allergy a secret...his teachers are aware, as are any parents who invite him over to play, etc...I just don't make it a daily issue. It is not something he (or we) hide from others, it just doesn't come up on a daily basis.
I was struggling with how to handle this issue all summer...and it just so happened we moved to a new house, and the neighbor behind us has a son with PA. He is 12 years old and has never had a peanut free classroom. I think that gave me the push I needed to try it out. Hopefully, I am not making mistake! I could have just as easily made a different decision.

Posted on: Mon, 12/09/2002 - 9:34am
momof5's picture
Joined: 10/03/2001 - 09:00

I wish I had the option! My daughter is 18 and a senior in high school. I have known she had peanut allergies since age 3 but did not know it could be deadly.
Imagine, no docter ever bothered to mention it to me! Last year she started having severe anaphylactic reactions at school and I took her to a specialist. She had 9 reactions (only at school) during the shool year. She has already had 8 reactions since school started in August.
Her school will make NO concessions. They will not even discontinue the sales of peanut products in fundraisers during school hours.
She had a reaction today from someone eating a snickers bar and breathing on her. She said it overtook her quick and she had no initial symptoms to give her warning. Her throat just began swelling and she began to severly itch. A student/friend gave her the benadryl, while trying to keep her from clawing herself. The teacher was present but did not offer assistance.
I really could use some help.

Posted on: Mon, 12/09/2002 - 10:39am
Going Nuts's picture
Joined: 10/04/2001 - 09:00

I'm so sorry your DD is going through this horror.
I see you are American, so if your DD's school is public or accepts even 1 cent of gov't. money (like subsidized milk), they are legally obligated to make accomodations for her. Do a search in this forum under "504 plans" or "Individualized Health Plans" and you'll get a wealth of information. It's just heartbreaking that some schools won't do what's right without legal action.
Good luck, and keep us posted.

Posted on: Mon, 12/09/2002 - 2:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

momof5, I'm so sorry to hear what you and your daughter are going through. I'm not clear, because Jesse is only just 7, but I think having that many anaphylactic reactions when you're a teenager must be absolutely terrifying. I'm not saying that it isn't terrifying for younger children to have them, but for a young person that understands the concept of death, it must be just horrible.
I have to say that I do find it interesting that you have never had a plan in place for your daughter and now, at the age of 18, you do feel that she requires one. I'm not saying that you did anything wrong or anything, please let me explain. Most of the discussion on this board is obviously with parents of children who are fairly young and we all see ourselves somehow *lightening up* (if you will) when our child gets older. For me, it may possibly be allowing "may contain" products into my PA son's classroom next year. And yet, your daughter would be proof positive that perhaps we can never lighten up. Do you know what I mean?
Is this her last year of school? Is it a public school? As Going Nuts pointed out, you do have the right, if your daughter is in a public school, to have a 504 Plan implemented. I'm Canadian so I only have a basic understanding of this. I know what a 504 Plan is because I have something similar written for my son in Canada. The thing that I don't understand is how you actually get one implemented with the school that your daughter is attending. That's something I have never quite figured out. I know how I get Jesse's school plan implemented here - I simply meet with the principal and his teacher for the year, but I'm not clear if the 504 is as easy as that.
There are many good 504 Plans that other members have written for their PA children and have very kindly posted on this board for other members to use. Off the top of my head at this late hour, I can think of Rhonda RS's, rilira's, and vic's.
If you would like to contact me off-the-board, I am able to send you a copy of vic's 504 Plan for her son and also a copy of my school plan for my son.
About a year ago, Rhonda RS did a wealth of research on 504 Plans and posted it under the Schools section. I think she may be someone that you need to speak with regarding your situation.
I know that most people that have posted 504 Plans on the board to share with other members are quite receptive to being contacted off-the-board for help as well.
Last week I had to speak with the superintendent of our school board re a couple of things and he finally got back to me about what happens to my son in this school district when he enters high school. The cafeterias here are allowed to sell anything they like because they are run by outside companies. And, unfortunately, they have only had one PA student ever that they have dealt with in the high school system here. Apparently the young person finds a "safe" place to eat his lunch each day.
If I even wanted to try to think that far ahead with the difficulties that I'm experiencing with my son's school now (in only Grade 2), I can see where I would be working with the school board to implement a peanut free table in the cafeteria and if I still felt the need, damn straight a peanut free classroom for my son.
I hope you find the help that you need here on the board - again, there are excellent, well researched 504 Plans posted. What you do is look at them and see what you feel you need implemented for your child and write down every point.
Another member that you may want to contact is Claire. She is the only other member that I can think of that posts regularly who has a teenager with PA. I also don't believe Claire has ever had a written school plan in place for her son either but she may be able to help you out regardless (Claire, please forgive me if that information re a written school plan is incorrect [img][/img] ).
Please let us know how it goes. You know you have our support, caring, concern, encouragement and information (I'm actually developing an advertising campaign for with that wording, can anyone tell? [img][/img] )
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 12/09/2002 - 10:13pm
momof5's picture
Joined: 10/03/2001 - 09:00

Thanks for the response and encouragement.
It is very hard starting at this point of my daughters education in the public schools to try and educate them about PA.
My daughter has had reactions since she was 3. She would welt up and itch. This went on for most of her life. We removed peanut products from our house, I homeschooled her until forth grade and things went pretty smooth.
In sixth grade in the public schools a teacher actually gave her a peanut to eat (as a blind fold taste experiment). My daughter threw up and then was just groggy the rest of the day. It stated on her school papers that she was PA. No one from the school ever contacted me. I only found out later when my daughter told me of the incident. I myself didn't realize the seriousness of what had happened.
In Junior High she began to play soccer and began having a series of allergic reactions. We took her to the doctor and he said she was probably allergic to grass and for her to take benadryl before each game. We did this. Looking back on it now and what I know now, I believe it was probably the peanut butter crackers that the children ate at the games.
In 9th grade she began passing out during soccer games and when she ran track. She discontinued the playing of all sports. 10th grade went pretty smooth. Then in 11th grade she began to have many reactions and I took her to an allergist. Of course they confirmed her PA and also Soy, and sesame seeds along with a host of trees, cats, and hamsters.
This year has been the worst however. Our schools have never dealt with anything like this before and are very adverse to doing anything to help. And I have trouble because it is my daughters last year. She is a senior and 18 and doesn't want me causing "trouble" in the school. The school has suggested she eat lunch alone in a room away from the cafeteria - she says no, it's her last year and she wants to spend that time with her friends. Also the principal has suggested she just take benadryl everyday and maybe that would stop the reactions.
I know my post is long but I have never really had anyone to discuss this with that can relate to what I am going through and so I just need to dump.
Thanks for listening

Posted on: Tue, 12/10/2002 - 6:21am
becca's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Oh, my! That sounds so dangerous for her, now! Does she carry epinephrine? I ask becuase you have mentione Benadryl a few times but not if she carries epipens. She needs them, and can at least show some good friends how to help her right away. I cannot belive your situation with the school and their lack of concern for her safety with such frequent and blatant reactions.
I understand how she must feel, but does she realize this could be truly life-threatening. I hope you can find an ally quickle in the system to push through some safety measures for your dd. Just a zone where she could be with her friends, where it can be clean of PN products. She sounds so sensetive to reacting.
I hope you can work out some arrangement without too much stigma for your dd. But she should have the support of her friends, and hopefully is old enough to understand the importance to her health. Have you read FAN's website, [url=","],[/url] at all? Keep us posted. becca

Posted on: Thu, 12/12/2002 - 1:47am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

momof5, I can see where having a school plan implemented now would be quite difficult since your daughter only has what six months left of school? The thing is though, how do you ensure her safety for the next six months?
I understand how difficult it can be if the school your child attends has never had to deal with a food allergic child before. I also believe I can understand how difficult it would be to deal with a teenager, in her last year of school, who doesn't want you to make waves.
Still, there has to be something that can be done. To me, if she has had this many reactions so far this year, that would mean that she would probably have another six reactions at least in the remaining months.
And that's too many.
becca is right. FAAN has a really good BE A PAL program which I use each year which helps other children to understand your child's food allergies and kinda gets them on board to look out for your child. I would definitely check it out and discuss it with your daughter to see if anything can be done.
I detect (and I may be wrong) a note of either guilt or BAD MOMMY stuff going on with her for not knowing what you feel you *should* have known. momof5, we all learn as we go along and some of us learn the very hard way (my son almost died - that's why I'm here almost daily [img][/img] ). The point is, you have found this website, you are able to get the information you need. You are able to *dump* (if you will) on others here who will understand what you're going through and who will offer you caring, support, and encouragement when perhaps no one else in your world will. I know this to be true.
If it was me, I would sit down with my daughter and ask her what she thinks should be done at the school so that she doesn't suffer another anaphylactic reaction. How could you do this without "making waves" during her last few months of school? If your daughter is old enough to tell you what she's uncomfortable with, she may also be able to tell you what she would be comfortable with.
becca, I noticed a comma in your link to FAAN, so it may not be link-able. [url=""][/url] (fine thing for me to say since for the last two days my fingers do not seem to want to type properly [img][/img] and I am having much difficulty).
Please let us know what happens and also please know that we are here for you and your daughter. Oh, I just had a thought. What if your daughter was to be in touch with another young woman her age that is PA? I have another member in mind.....
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 12/12/2002 - 2:13am
becca's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Thankyou Cindy. I just was checking back here and cringed at all my typos! I make many, usually because I come here after trying to get my dd to go to sleep. I am trying to type quietly next to her room, and I drop letters and am sitting in the dark at times! I don't always have time to edit! Yikes, that was a bad one, LOL! becca


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