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Middle School teacher handing out pb cookies to the kids in my sons classroom,WHY? - Peanut Allergy Information

Middle School teacher handing out pb cookies to the kids in my sons classroom,WHY?

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My 11 year old son, doesn't want to go to Middle school anymore and has had 2 reactions at school, in less than 2 weeks. He has been with this School District for 3 years. Don't know what to do. The school nurse (District Nurse) has assured me that all of the staff members know of any special considerations with the students, and had a highlighted list, especially if the child is in their class. A couple of weeks ago, they were selling a pb/jelly item on the alacarte, which a good amount of the kids love and were eating, including out at recess, he couldn't get away from it, they never have had a peanut free table for him, they told him that he just needs to move if somebody sits next to him eating nuts. I contacted the principal and this item, after quite a struggle was finally removed from lunch. Then just 9 days later my sons teacher handed out peanut butter cookies to each of the kids in the Art class as they were walking in, and offered one to my son, he then told her NO, I AM ALLERGIC, she said she didn't know that, and he then had to leave the classroom and went to the library. He then broke out in hives and felt short of breath. Needless to say he will not be going to school tomorrow. Obviously the nurse didn't inform the teachers of his severe nut allergy. What do we have to do to feel safe at school. The nurse didn't even call me/art teacher, although she was aware because she called my son in the Library. The nurse also said he only needs one epi-pen, and said 2 isn't necessary. She also said she thinks that some of these doctors/allergist just overexhaggerate. Anybody else run into anything like this. My son just wants to be able to feel safe, but now is scared to go, and will that classroom be cleaned thoroughly???

By ParentofPAChildMI on Oct 8, 2013

I am a parent in a similar situation. It is really bad when you cannot feel your child is safe at school, a place where they are required to spend so much of their time. I am also a Paramedic and have attended to my son when he was having a severe reaction from a peanut glued to a squirrel picture in the classroom. No consumption but was required to glue the peanut to the paper, it nearly cost him his life. Educators are really clueless and parents of children who do not have food allergies simply add to the problem. Since my son is sensitive to the smell, touch and consumption it is impossible to get him away from peanuts and tree nuts. Almost every day I am called because he is showing signs of exposure, however until he is collapsed or in respiratory arrest the school just will not get it, and by the way he attends a parochial school because the public school is 10 times worse. So now I get to pay top dollar and worry everyday that my son is going to have anaphylaxis and possibly die. He has been given snickers bars by his teachers on two separate occasions, peanuts and popcorn by yet another and frequently belittled when he seeks the use of his albuterol inhaler because his breathing is labored and his asthma has been triggered. There are days I would like to kneel on the chest of these teachers and see how they like it when they have to struggle to breathe, they simply do not get it! I have initiated the steps to move forward and force the school to make changes through the Office of Civil Rights and ACLU. My son should not have to vacate a classroom or sit in the hallway, basically removed from others because the teachers, principal and school refuse to recognize his severe food allergy.

By PeanutAllergy.com on Oct 18, 2013

Question of the Week: Answered!

Every week, PeanutAllergy.com is answering one of the questions posted in our community.

Our Answer:

We are sorry to hear that your son has to go through this at school. Education is essential for children, and he has a right to feel safe at school.

We recommend talking to the school district. Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, your son’s allergy qualifies as a disability. By law, each school district is required to have a Section 504 Coordinator to help implement a safe environment for your son. For more information on Section 504, please visit this website.

It may help to talk to your son’s teachers about his allergy instead of relying on the school nurse to inform staff members about it. You can also give teachers and other parents a list of peanut-free snacks so they know which treats are safe to have in the classroom.

For additional advice and support, you can read more than 100 responses to your post on our Facebook page here.

By survivingfood on Oct 20, 2013

This nurse has outdated skills/knowledge. Her attitude and lack of professionalism are troubling in re: to not properly informing all the teachers of your child's allergy and advising on one epi pen, when all the updated recommendations out there are to have two at all times for very valid medical reasons. You need 504 Plan asap and the school should know about nurses unsafe practices in re to life threatening food allergies so that she could be properly educated. Good luck.

By laurelg1 on Oct 20, 2013

I run a school health clinic and while I try to keep my teachers informed about student health and updates specific illness, I always ask the parents to talk with their child's teacher and/or any other teacher that will come in contact with the child on a regular basis. This ensures health communication with the teacher and also imposes a personal touch to your child and their illness verses just being a name on a piece of paper that may or may not get passed on from the health professional.

By Lundkat on Oct 20, 2013

Sad that this is even an issue. There needs to be mandatory teaching about ALL allergies in the classrooms. The guidance counselor or nurse can talk about it, just they do about bullying. They could teach about symptoms and how to help. Kids make better choices when they realize their friends could get sick and they can help keep them safe. The 504 is a great tool and you should be very demanding! Our school wanted to isolate my 6 year old PA daughter in the closet area of the lunchroom. HELLO...really!?! Lets isolate my daughter, who already feels different and excluded. Definitely not ok! They created a Peanut safe table for her and hot lunch only (our district food is peanut free), she keeps her supplies separate, they DO NOT allow any product that contains or "may" contain peanuts for snacks or birthdays in the room, and she even carries her Epipen on her (even at 6). These are just a few things you can REQUIRE them to do. Do they allow guns in your school? I'm sure not. So why would they allow something that could kill your child, be that prevalent in the building? This is exactly why we just went through a desensitization process! Completely worth it! Best of luck!

By struf2008@gmail.com on Oct 20, 2013

I have a son that is very allergic to peanuts. At his school I have him protected under a 504 plan. That is covered under the disability act and makes the school have a legal responsibility to provide a safe learning enviorment. So sorry for you and your son! I woyld check to see what plans your state has to offer:-) Good luck to you!

By Mrsdocrse on Oct 20, 2013

Hi There,

I am sorry that the people that are around your son are so ignorant. Especially the school nurse! I would start with your child's doctor. They are the ones that have to sign off on the 504. The school has to take steps to protect your child once the 504 is in place. You work together with the administration in setting up the plan.

I don't know about you but when we re fill the presciption for the epi-pen it is always a dual pack. "Twin inject." It is written that way. I would also contact the district school nurse she should be informed of the situation with the nurse at your school.

Each year at the beginning of the year I contact each of my sons teachers and advise them of his allergies and ask them to contact me anytime there is a project or something that involves food at all! I have to say that my sons teachers have been really helpful in keeping him safe.

My son is in the 7th grade and he is at a school that is not peanut free. They do not have a peanut free table either. The catering company that serves the lunches does not serve PB but the kids can bring it in. On several occasions he has not eaten his lunch and when I asked why he said that he wasn't comfortable with eating next to someone with PB. I told him to go sit with someone else. He is allowed to do that. and he does. The nurse said he could eat in her office if he wanted too but he doesn't. He wants to be with his friends and it does cause anxiety for him some days but that is part of living with it I guess.

I also volunteer to make things ( food items) for the whole class so that I know they are safe. It is a lot of work but it helps keep him safe and he can feel like the rest of the kids eating the same thing.

As far as the class room being cleaned I wouldn't count on that. The custodians at my school clean the floors and the teachers clean the tables. I would tell your son to wash his hands often. Maybe you could volunteer to help wipe down the classroom. I should think that she would not hand out PB cookies after him having a reaction. It is hard to avoid the mild atopic reactions because we don't live in a peanut free world but big reactions can be avoided.

I hope you get some support from the teachers they are ones that really are in a position to help your son. Good luck

By laurelg1 on Oct 20, 2013

I just want you to know, I did not state that I did not inform teachers, nor that I wasn't allowed to. As the nurse, I drive my staff so crazy with training and updates about allergies and health issues they could teach a course in anaphylaxis. I recommend parents make contact with their child's teacher about his/her needs and those issues specific to him. Our school encourages an open line of communication between parents and staff about any issue, medical, educational and personal.

By AD75 on Oct 20, 2013

Since your school district seems reckless and irresponsible with food allergies, starting with the staff who are uneducated, I would INSIST on a 504 plan right away so that there is liability to the situation. I work in a school system and have seen people make honest mistakes, but this sounds a bit absurd, what nurse worth anything would not know you need 2 epi pens because they only last 15 minutes and you can have a longer reaction or biphasic reaction. If the nurse doesn't know, it is her responsibility to find out (and I'm not bad mouthing nurses, my sister is one, and she would be the first to say the nurse should educate herself). As for the comment from the person who runs the health clinic in a school that the parent should reach out to the teacher because she can't as the nurse always make sure everyone knows, sorry, that's a lame excuse and sounds like typical school employee mentality and why school workers get bad names. As the school nurse, you MOST certainly can make sure every teacher that teaches that student in any capacity knows about the food allergy and the risks, and they can even be reminded through out the year and also receive ongoing in-services, etc. to keep it fresh in their minds. You may not be able to control the teachers actions after they have been informed and educated, but you can and do have a duty to see that they are informed and educated, no excuses as to why you can't get to all the teachers, period. The nurses in the school systems actually have a very important role for the safety of children, and it would be nice to see that embraced rather than excuses. I do think parents should reach out to the teachers and that it is a parent's duty to help educate in the process, but not for reasons that the school nurse just can't get to all the teachers. It takes 100% effort from all parties involved to keep a child with ana food allergies safe at school!

By mom1995 on Oct 20, 2013

Do you have a 504? If not get one ASAP. I would also ask the nurse to see her licenes to practice medicine because I am willing to bet she is NOT a doctor so while her advice and oppinion are nice she is not qualified to give medical advice. If you have a regular doctor or the allergist you are working with write a very clear and exact letter that lines out your son's allergy and what accomodations are required for his safety that is a great starting point for the 504. There is a ton of parents who can all tell you some of their great success stories about how to get the 504 and how to get the best results. Just ask.

By Nutsnonuts on Oct 20, 2013

My son's school had no idea about peanuts allergies. It was 12 years ago. Before school start, I met principle, nurse and teacher to explain what it is and what need to be done. I demand peanuts free table and wipes to everybody who had peanuts items. I know wipe might not ideal but better than nothing. Then meet lunch lady and genitor to go over how to clean table. "Soaps". Then went to bus gaga to train all the driver with Epi pen. Bring orange and expired Epi pen. My son's driver tried. Then made peanuts and nuts free zone sign and put at his class door. Teacher call me to double check the snacks others brings in. And all the school staff did the drill. To me who has right or not. It have to be done as safe as possible and to protect our kids, we have to be strong. Then we move to different state after that. The new school district does not even allow anyone bring nuts to school. Make school do whatever it takes or look for near by school who already might be peanuts free.

By Nutsnonuts on Oct 20, 2013

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By firthfamily on Oct 20, 2013

I am sorry that your son doesn't feel safe at school. It is really sad when the main focus of school is food and not learning. My daughter wasn't safe at her school either. I had talked with the principal and because it is a private school they are not required to make a 504 plan. So we ended up changing schools. We now have our peanut free table and even with out a 504 plan the parents of her class have told me that they will not have class projects that have peanuts in them. I am realistic, I know that some will slip through though. But it will only be products that are made in a facility and not contain any overt nuts. She knows though to only eat food if I brought it in though. So it isn't a perfect solution but at least it is a better one.

Ironically the same day that I had talked to the principal about getting a nut free table set up, I had a parent complaining to me that one of her daughters friends wasn't being to friendly. I looked over to her and it was all I could do to not say, I wish I had your problems want to switch for even one day. In my years as nurse I have learned many things from my patients- this one keeps coming up. Nothing really happens, until it happens to you.

So is there another school option that you could look into? Sometimes it is just easier if you aren't the first one. It was hard for my daughter to leave her friends but she feels safer now. Quite frankly that nurse scares me and I am a nurse. I would talk with her and find out if she has ever had anyone have a nut reaction in her care and if she was able to treat them correctly until help arrived. Trust your gut. Even with the 504 plan is he going to have help if he needs it.

By LMT480 on Oct 20, 2013

While a 504 plan is absolutely essential, it isn't always the complete answer. The staff has to follow it, but it doesn't help their attitude, especially if they don't "get it." I had to pave the way at my daughter's elementary school 9 years ago and it wasn't easy, but at least everyone was open to learn. It sounds to me like you need to change schools if at all possible. If the nurse isn't on your side you are going to be fighting an uphill battle. They didn't have room for a peanut free table in the very small cafeteria will very long tables, but they placed a small table right outside the doors. At first I thought it would be horrible for her, but it turned out to be a highlight of her day. In the beginning of the year they sent home letters to the kids in her class asking if they wanted to sign up to be lunch buddy of the day. If they agreed then a calendar was made at the beginning of each month assigning them as a buddy. They got to be line leader that day and some other special priviledges. They had to bring a peanut free lunch that was inspected by the nurse, and then they got to sit with my daughter at the special table for that lunch. It was near the principals office so she always managed to stop and say hi. The kids all thought it was such a treat. As for the classroom, that was peanut free, but I kept a box of her special treats filled so she always had something really fun to eat in case of a party. She didn't eat anything brought in by anyone, unless it was cleared by me first. It was a learning experience for the school as well as for me, but we were all always on the same page.

By pamela hughes on Oct 20, 2013

Wow - I am so sorry. Your son's school clearly does not understand or is not compassionate toward his PA. I have had to pave the way at Preschool, Elementary and now are working with a new elementary too. They have been wonderful, but there is no fail safe - so I really empathize with the response you are getting. It's hard enough when they have a wonderful attitude and things still pop up. I have 2 recommendations to consider: * Having a brief meeting with facts about PA and a Q&A time in case they really aren't clear on the severity. I would be sure your biggest advocate teachers are at that meeting - it is crucial. It's amazing how people influence each other. * If that is not successful, I would look into other schooling options. That may sound extreme, but I have found the worst trap for me mentally is when I feel like there is no hope or no option. Sometimes just looking at all your possibilities can give you renewed hope and new ideas. It may also encourage your son as you go through this time together. Hang in there and make friends with as many sweet people who understand as you can. They not only encourage you, they may be the "other voices" that talk sense into the powers that be. And remember you are doing a great job protecting your child as you let him live life well. Not everyone will agree-but you can know you're doing your job. :)

By Mrsdocrse on Oct 21, 2013

I couldn't agree more. Well said. That is the reality.... this is not a peanut free world. Everywhere we go, there is a risk... grocery store, amusement parks, malls, etc. It is what it is. I tell my son now that he is older is that HE needs to take care of himself.... Control what you can control and make sure you wash your hands often and never go anywhere without your Epi-pen.

By headfirstfearless on Oct 21, 2013

Okay, I may be playing devil's advocate here and I don't want to come off as insensitive because that is definitely NOT where I am coming from. I am just speaking from my own experience and want to give you what I consider reality. I am 24 and have had a severe, life-threatening allergy to peanuts since the age of 2. I have carried two Epi-Pens for as long as I can remember and learned to read at a very young age for the sole reason of being able to read ingredient labels on my own. When I started school, nearly twenty years ago, the schools had no idea about peanut allergies or how to handle them yet. No one understood that I could still have a reaction via other ways of contact and not just by eating peanuts. Few had heard of Epi-Pens. My mom did a great deal of education with the school nurse, principal, and my teachers, just as you have. Schools do have an obligation to provide a SAFE environment for all of the children they serve. Your son's school is clearly not doing an adequate job of accomplishing this for your son and it does need to be addressed. However, at some point, you and your son will need to figure out how he is going to handle his peanut allergies out in the real world. Colleges, universities, and workplaces have very little control over their environments and in most cases, cannot and/or will not accommodate allergies. This can present a huge challenge on a daily basis (believe me, I know!) but it's reality. Unfortunately, the world cannot accommodate peanuts allergies. It sounds like your son is already hyper-vigilant, which will of course help him as he gets older and enters new environments and encounters new experiences. Best of luck...

By joshmom on Oct 21, 2013

I am really sorry that your son is going through this. Some people can be really insensitive. My son is 22 years old, and we discovered he was allergic to peanuts when he was 3 years old.

A lot of people don't understand the seriousness of peanut allergies, and will be very non-chalant about it. The school that he attended for early childhood, was well educated and the made sure that his classroom was a peanut-free classroom. I had him repeat kindergarten. For 3 years he attended a private school. I had a good repore with the teachers and Head of School, and was able to educate them on the seriousness of PA. If someone brought PB&J to school, his teacher would let him eat in the classroom, and she and another child would eat with him so that he wouldn't be alone. In 3rd grade I registered him back in public school. I wrote a letter to the school board, cc'd the principal and his teacher. The principal thanked me for sending the letter, and she said that she had no idea how serious it was. Another teacher who was the lunchroom teacher told us that although my son asked to be moved whenever someone at his table ate PB&J, she did not know it was that serious. The Principal told her that since my son had a very good behavior, she wouldn't see any reason for him to lie about it. The lunchroom teacher said that sometimes he would go and sit at a table alone, because she noticed that he would get sick from the smell(wheezing). The school nurse suggested that he not be in the cafeteria at all when children are eating PB&J or anything containg PB.

By jap on Oct 21, 2013

WILL BE QUICK JUST WALKED IN THE DOOR AN ALLERGY CHILD FALLS UNDER A 504 DISABILITY PLAN

A CARE PLAN MUST BE IN ACTION BY THE SCHOOL, PEANUT FREE TABLE REQUIRED WITH BUFFER TABLES

NO PEANUT PRODUCT SHOULD BE IN HIS PLACE OF LEARNING IE CLASSROOM , EVEN IF SCHOOL IS NOT PEANUT FREE. ESPECIALLY HE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO LEAVE CLASSROOM AND 2 EXPOSURES IS VERY DANGEROUS AND SHOWS A LACK OF CARE.YOUR CHILD SHOULD NOT MISS OUT DUE TO ILNESS, DO THEY BAN THE CHILDREN IN WHEEL CHAIRS ??????

GO TO YOUR DOCTOR GET AN ORDER FOR SECOND EPI PEN TO BE GIVEN AFTER 5 MINUTES WHICH IS WHAT THE EPI SITE RECOMMENDS, REMEMBER THE GIRL AT CAMP WHO DIED HAD THREE GIVEN

MY DAUGHTERS PLAN ALSO BANS PEANUT FROM HER CLASSROOM AND NO TEACHERS ARE ALLOWED TO OFFER HER FOOD OR EAT PEANUT IN CLASSROOM

IF SHE INGESTS A PEANUT SHE IS NOT MOVED FROM CLASSROOM EPI GIVEN + BENADRYL AND VENTOLIN THEN 911 5 MINUTES LATER ANOTHER EPI AND SHE IS NEVER LEFT ALONE.

SOUNDS LIKE YOUR SCHOOL SYSTEM IS CLUELESS, MAKE THEM WORK FOR YOU, DRAW UP THE PLAN WITH A DOCTOR MY DAUGHTER IS 15.5 AND NEVER HAD A PEANUT EXPOSURE IN 14 YEARS

JULIAN

By stressedmommy on Oct 21, 2013

Let me first say that I am so sorry that you and your son are having to deal with this. As someone has mentioned, a 504 would cover his peanut allergies. It sounds like you have done a great job of teaching your son about his allergies. With that said. Our son has had multiple severe food allergies since he was about 20 months old. We attempted to place him in a public middle school 3 years ago (he is now 14). After meeting with the principle who told us he could not have his epi with him (but it could stay two buildings away at the office) and he needed to "learn to deal" with peanuts when I inquired about talking to the art teacher about not using peanut products in art (yes this has been a problem in the past). I asked about allergy free tables and was informed they did not do this. After about 30 minutes, he told me "In my 30+ years of being a school principle you are the first parent to ask for special accommodations for an allergic child.." because I wanted my son to continue keeping his epi pen ON HIM as he had for as long as he could remember. My son cried for days. He was terrified because this man just did not seem to "get" it. We put him in a charter school the next town over which was much more understanding and educated about allergies (all the teachers were trained in epi pens, no food of any kind in the classrooms, etc). Yes, I could have pushed for accommodations, but I felt my son's allergies were too severe to chance exposure. It is always a constant battle to teach educators about his allergies. As I said he is now 14 and this year HE did the demonstration class we do EVERY year with ALL his teachers on how to use an epi pen (and now an auvi-q). And he just returned for a 4 night trip with his class...all chaperons (no parents allowed) were trained on the auvi-q and were very supportive of his special needs...no nuts or peanuts on the bus or in the rooms. So, some schools are more willing to work with you. Best of luck on whatever you decide to do.

By lovebug99 on Aug 15, 2014

My mom always sets up a meeting with all of my teachers every school year. This meeting was mandatory because teachers don't know how serious peanut allergies can get. She ran through everything with the teachers and made sure they got the deal. Also, at my school they even had a peanut butter and jelly drive. Crazy right?! Sometimes people just don't understand. Having a meeting with all your kids teachers with the principal sitting in may help. It's always worked for me.

By Nutsnonuts on Aug 17, 2014

I moved and purchase the house where peanuts / tree nuts free school district is. It was not easy financially. But it's worth it for us. School before was just like what you describe. I Made them to make peanuts free table. But then they remove the table sign as my son finish the Lunch. District have to understand that need for peanuts allergy otherwise everything they do will be just surface and temporary. You might want to discuss with superintendent about 504.

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