Handwashing in school - Peanut Allergy Information

Handwashing in school

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My 9 year old son has a severe peanut/tree nut allergy. He is also highly allergic to eggs, dairy, wheat, oats, barley, rye, sesame, and garlic. He has successfully made it through preschool and grades k-3rd grade safely due to my husband and I educating our schools. They have done a great job keeping him safe. This year will be different because he will be moving classrooms during the day for different subjects. Previously, we have been able to have each student wash their hands before school and after lunch before entering their nut free classroom. This will be much more difficult to accomplish with 60 kids and 2 classrooms. I know many of you have your peanut allergic kids in school. My question is, does your school have students handwash also? What is the norm here? I don't know if we have been doing more than other schools or if this is happening in your schools too? Any advice or direction would be helpful. For the first time I am feeling unsettled about sending him and am considering homeschooling. I know it gets more complicated as they get older, and change classrooms every period. I just wasn't prepared for it to be in 4th grade.

By Player11753 on Aug 19, 2013

How about putting a brand new pear of disposable rubber gloves in his lunch bag every day and he can only touch his own food with the gloves?

Other than that he can take care not to ever touch his eyes, nose, or mouth with his hands unless he washes his hands immediately before. This is a good practice for anyone to follow to prevent colds anyway.

By Mrsdocrse on Aug 19, 2013

HI There, Just some thoughts. If your child is in the 4th grade he should be pretty well educated about his allergy and is old enough to help keep himself safe. He probably makes sure he washes his hands before eating and HE is keeping his hands out of his mouth. (My son was a nail biter for a while, yikes!) I know that my sons school does not have a hand washing policy ( he is in middle school) But if you think about it, now that he is older they don't have snack time in the classroom, so the only place there is food is cafe. That should reduce the change of exposure. If he plays and sits with a group of friends maybe they could wash hands after lunch. Is he at the same school as before? My son still carries "handi wipes" with his epi pen to wipe off a table or his hands when he needs to and there isn't soap and water available. There will always be anxiety and new complications at every new stage. ( now I worry about him kissing a girl that may not be aware) I would talk to your Doctor about your fears and discuss the severity vs risk before I would home school. For us, my son is anaphylactic to peanuts only if ingested. moderately allergic to shellfish. So, if he came in contact with nuts he would just get hives. Washing the area and benadryl took care of it. Good Luck

By cmarie234 on Aug 26, 2013

My daughter just started first grade at the same school she went to for kindergarten. Last year there was hooplah because her doctor's action plan for her stated that all students must wash their hands after they eat. The school could not do this for two reasons, 1) they can't MAKE students wash their hands, and 2) there's not enough time (lunch and recess are only 20 minutes each and there aren't that many sinks). So my compromise was to provide hand-wipes (we personally provided them to the school) for the cafeteria attendants to offer to each child if the student said they had peanut butter.... The doctor said that hand wipes, not hand sanitizer, would do the job also.

This year, however, they are saying she is old enough to keep herself safe (by not touching her face). They don't want to even be bothered with offering the wipes. They say other students in the school have peanut allergies and they do not make these accommodations for them.

I'm baffled. I'm baffled that all parents of students with food allergies don't feel that other students not washing their hands after eating puts their child at risk. I'm baffled the medical professionals that work for the school system don't read the latest recommendations for keeping students safe in school. I'm baffled that the school system isn't more concerned about the safety of their students. And I'm baffled that the commenters to this post seem to be putting this back on you. Socialization during the grade school years is like walking a tight rope. The last thing our kids need is to worry about what so-and-so had for lunch!

So good luck to you and me both!

By Mrsdocrse on Aug 26, 2013

faithfamilycoffee: I am sorry that you are struggling with this. You said that your son is severely allergic to peanuts/tree nuts. He also has multiple food allergies in addition to peanuts/tree nuts. Are the other allergies life threatening as well even if comes into skin contact? I hear the worry in your comments. I am sorry. What does your doctor recommend? I would speak with him/her. Do you have a 504 for your child? What do you do when you leave the house to go to other places.... playground, grocery store, friends houses? Washing his own hands before eating anything, and not touching his eyes etc is huge. This will cut the risk of ingestion of the allergen way down I would think. Does your doctor recommend home schooling? For me and my son, we do everything we can to avoid an anaphylactic reaction. We are not careless. We just deal with the smaller reactions. Unless we stop him from going out of the house all together the risk can't be avoided. My son plays sports and is in band. Bottom line is YOU have do what you are comfortable with. If homeschooling will put your mind at ease.... then do it. How does your son feel about it? Wish you luck..