My son Braden is getting ready to start Kindergarten this fall. He has many food allergies with his PA being the worst. I know I need to inform and prepare his teachers and other staff at the school. I want to expain the severity of his allergy to them without seeming overbearing. What suggestions do you have? Does anyone have a generic letter that they have written to parents and teachers?
On Aug 5, 2005
Welcome to the boards. There is a wealth of information here that will assist you with this exciting, but nerve-wracking transition to elementary school. My DS is now entering 2nd grade, so this is still pretty fresh in my mind...
To answer one of your specific questions: You're going to want to spend a lot of time in the [i]Schools[/i] forum. If you do a search on "school letters" or "parent letters", you should find some good samples that have been written.
Something to consider about a letter to parents:
1) Some parents like to have the letter come from them. Potential Pros: puts a human face on the situation; depending on community, school size,etc. may be helpful. Potential Cons: it can single you and your child out (I note that you are a teacher - not sure if at the elementary school where DS will attend - if so, complicates matters further); it puts you in the sights of those that oppose whatever risk reduction practices will get instituted to protect your child.
People have had success both ways. IMHO, I'm an advocate of having the communications actually come from the school administration (with help from you behind the scenes). It is their policies that will be communicated, and they don't have to identify your child by name, BTW. That way, the school will "own" the communications, and also "own" any potential backlash that could arise.
Here are some links to some threads that might be of assistance:
Also, a key document if you're not familiar with it: Managing Life Threatening Food Allergies at School, put out by the MA Dept. of Education (caution: it's 84 pages)
Will see you around the Schools Forum...let us know how it's going...
On Aug 6, 2005
Hi,I understand your anxiety over the start of school. It requires a lot of work on your part.My 7 year old son is PA and I've learned that unless you push, people don't take your concerns seriously. My son had full day kindergarten, so lunchtime was a concern. For the first three or four months he came home for lunch everyday. During that time I spoke with the administration about having a peanut free table. I made up permission slips that his teacher sent home to ask for volunteers to sit with him for one week at a time. We got about 8 kids to volunteer and I scheduled them randomly. They agreed not to bring anything containing peanuts. I had to check the lunch of whoever was sitting with him everyday.( I will still do this until he is old enough to do it himself)For their snacks, we sent home a letter asking for them to be peanut free. I would check each package and mark it with an ok before it would be distributed to the class. School holiday parties are a pain. I have been lucky enough to have great room mothers who understood the seriousness of the situation. I have also done just about all the baking they needed done(I volunteered) A good book that is helpful is The Peanut Allergy Answer Book by Michael C. Young M.D. It has a form for an emergency health care plan, or you can get it from The Food Allergy Network. I also offered to show several video tapes such as Alexander, the elephant who couldn't eat peanuts, It only takes one bite, and from the show Arthur, Binky goes nuts. I wish you the best of luck on the upcoming school year. I hope some of this information helps and that your son is kept safe. Keep us posted on how things go.
On Aug 6, 2005
Thank you Nutternomore and Peanutfreemom for your great responses. It is so nice to know I am not alone. I now have somewhere to turn when I am feeling frustrated. I have bought and read several good books on peanut/food allergies and I am a member of FAAN. I have some of their pamphlets and videos that I plan on sharing with our school. I just have to decide how far I want to take this, do I want a peanut free school/classroom/table?
I have found the threads for school realated issues and am learning a lot from them. Thank you Nutternomore for the links. It will take me some time to read but I am enjoying the information.