New School: Communal snacks and more! I am SO freaked and desperate!

Posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 6:27am
katiee's picture
Joined: 05/09/2001 - 09:00

My son starts at a new school on Tuesday (OCDSB - Ottawa Carleton District School Board). I just got off the phone with his new teacher, I was unable to meet her until now because I was told at the end of last year that the teachers had not yet been assigned. Fine.

Finally get to speak to her, am told she understands, school has "many" anaphylactic students...bla, bla, bla. Then when I questioned snacks, she informed me that they have a communal snack program. Each parent is responsible for a weeks worth of snacks. EEEK say I, aside from the obvious PA issues I have with this, what about the hygene/public health issues? She explained that she "encourages" the use of fruit and veggies as the snack but that "some" parents do opt to bake instead.

Next issue, peanut free classroom, she will not allow peanuts or nuts in the classroom but that if, as happened last year, a parent insists on sending in peanut butter, she can not prevent it but would ensure said child washes up afterwards? WHAT? I went on to explain that Wade absolutely can not be exposed to peanut in any form and offered to provide documentation to his anaphylactic reaction in 2002 to aerolized (sp?) peanut at my nephew's wedding.

The overall impression was that this is a nice lady who thinks she gets it but clearly does not... ("no one has ever asked for that before")how do I make this safe for Wade? How do I make them understand? I don't want to go in to a new school with both barrels blazing but I want them to understand that Wade has certain rights, that each FA child is unique and that I will help them in any way I can but clearly, some things have to change. HELP!!!


Posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 7:01am
katiee's picture
Joined: 05/09/2001 - 09:00

I just went on line to the OCDSB site and went through their document "Protocol for Creating Safe and Healthy Schools for Anaphylactic Students". The following is quoted ditectly from there:
"Suggestions for Dealing with Non-Co-Operation
General Statement
It is our goal to have no allergens in the classrooms used by anaphylactic students. We do NOT support the concept of segregating
either the anaphylactic students or students who bring in foods which are not allergen-free.

Posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 11:04am
katiee's picture
Joined: 05/09/2001 - 09:00

Edited because I sounded like a baby!
[This message has been edited by katiee (edited September 03, 2004).]

Posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 11:25am
mae's picture
Joined: 07/12/2002 - 09:00

katiee - can you set up an appt. with the principal - I'd go right to the top if you don't get a good feeling from the teacher. Hope it works out... [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 12:01pm
toomanynuts's picture
Joined: 08/23/2003 - 09:00

Katiee! Hi!
Sorry for what you are going through. I just had a chance to read your post - so hope I am not to late to answer you.
I think that it is unfortunate that the teacher doesn't get it. I would bring in documentation and try to get through to her that under no circumstance should your child be around nut products. If someone brings in a nut product suggest to her that they will need to eat it in a different room that your child will never be in.
It is very disheartening when they don't understand and you are suppose to trust them all day with your child.
I would meet with the teacher again and try to get in with a principal or someone superior to her if she still doesn't get it.
You need to do all that you can do to keep your child safe. I would also bring in information for the teacher to read about peanut allergies as well as a plan in case something unforseen should happen.
You have a lot to do but it will be worth it in the long run.
I read an interesting article in a magazine called Living without (its about food allergies) [url=""][/url] You may be able to read this article on line It called Favorites for Kids. It has alot of information that it sounds like you are looking for in regards to your childs school and teacher. If you could print out the article and give it to the teacher it may help her understand. Also, there is a sample letter re: Life Threatening Food Allergies that would be perfect for the school to send out to the parents of the children in your childs class.
I hope that you can get access to this article and their website I think you will find it very informative.
Best Wishes in the New School Year to you and your little one.

Posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 12:49pm
DebO's picture
Joined: 03/15/1999 - 09:00

Hi katiee
Sorry I wasn't here when you posted - we just got home from the Lynx game. I wanted to compare what you posted with the policy I got from the OCCDSB last year - I gave you a copy - is this the same or something new? I can't seem to find my copy right now.
whoops - just reread your post - you are going to the OCDSB, not the OCCDSB. Sorry.
BTW, in our school (OCCDSB) if a child brings in peanut butter they eat in the hallway and clean up afterwards under strict supervision. We work with a concept that my child's classroom is supposed to be safe and she will be unable to focus and work properly if she feels the classroom is unsafe.
I have never heard of any school doing this 'shared snack' thing. It sounds like a nightmare to me. I can't help wondering what the purpose of it is - to make sure everyone has a snack?
Are you meeting with the principal or only the teacher? I would insist on meeting with both. You could try to see what doco you can get from Dr. Hampong - le tme check what we got on our last visit and I will see if it may be helpful.
Hang in there - sorry I don't have any experience with that board!
take care

Posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 12:59pm
DebO's picture
Joined: 03/15/1999 - 09:00

Hi again
Just had a look at the protocol from the OCDSB. It states:
- anaphylactic students must eat only the food they bring from home
- no one (including staff) trades or shares food with the anaphylactic student
- parents are asked to provide detailed labelling for food they send into the classroom for consumption
I don't see how the communal snack process is going to meet these requirements!?

Posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 1:38pm
smartalyk's picture
Joined: 07/20/2004 - 09:00

Hi katiee,
I am sorry you are under so much stress about school. I have found to be a great support group... perhaps there weren't many people around when you posted your question.
I think you should take in that documentation about his reactions, take in allergy reports from your doctor. Is your doctor willing to write a note about the seriousness of your son's reactions? Then write up a proposed allergy management plan about what changes you think would be necessary to keep your son safe. See if your doctor will sign that. Take that to the teacher and ask to set up a meeting about the issue ASAP. I also handed a copy of Anaphylaxis: A Handbook for School Boards. The recommendation in there is for any elementary school to ban peanuts and nuts to keep the allergic child safe. What grade is your son in?
I hope this gets fixed ASAP. I don't think you are being unreasonable!

Posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 2:51pm
katiee's picture
Joined: 05/09/2001 - 09:00

I'm feeling a little stupid right now, chalk it up to stress and not just related to this, but that's another story.
Thank you guys for the moral support. DH and I just had a brain storming session and have pretty much decided that we will keep the kids at their old school, warts and all.
The reason for the move was to meet Wade's accademic needs. He was tested last year and although he missed the cut off for the congregated primary gifted program withing the OCDSB (they expect an overall score of 99.6%, he scored 99%) he tested at a grade 2+ level for both reading and math. The Catholic school board was unable to offer us any significant enrichment until grade 3 at which time he would be bussed to a different school once a week to be with kids like him.
DH and I were not at all impressed with this solution, I just felt like there was going to be a whole lot of wasted potential. Shades of a family member who should have been grade skipped a couple of times, got bored and quit trying. I just wanted more for Wade.
So, the Psychologist suggested and "alternative school", there are no english alternative schools within the English Catholic School Board, only within the Public Board. It meant that I would have to drive the kids to school every day (downtown), as well as get a cross boundary transfer but I persisted.
Now I feel like an idiot, I tried to arrange to meet Wade's teacher last June but was politely told that this was not possible as the classes had not yet been assigned. I had an uneasy feeling at the time because the Principal, although quite pleasant, seemed to minimize my peanut allergy concerns with a "we have had many FA kids here and a well aware of what precautions to take" answer that just made me feel like something was wrong. Should have trusted my GUT!
So now I have to go back to school number one with my tail between my legs and have the kids transfered back.
DH was right, this was a deal breaker. Bad enough that they would allow a child to eat peanut butter in the class room of a peanut allergic child if the parent insists, but they also allowed cakes, cupcakes, candy (even allowed the kids to eat on the playground...Cindy, I remember your old school doing that and was shocked at the time) without and real restrictions.
This whole experience has made me realize that nothing is more important than keeping Wade safe. We'll have to look in to alternative ways to keep him stimulated I guess. Thank you all for letting me vent, and cry, I feel like less of a failure.
Deb, I'll post the reference document WRT not segregating either the PA child OR the child eating peanut butter as soon as I can locate it.
XO katiee
*** Deb, the document, quoted in my second post, is called Protocol fro Creating Safe and Healthy Schools for Anaphylactic Students. P.059.500
[This message has been edited by katiee (edited September 03, 2004).]

Posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 3:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

katiee, okay, I understand you're stressed. I didn't come onto the board until late tonight for a variety of reasons, but the time from your first two posts and then the one where you felt you weren't getting any support was only five hours.
With all of us so busy with back-to-school stuff, Labour Day week-end plans and everything, it is conceivable for you not to receive a response within five hours. I know you didn't get one from me because I wasn't on the board during that time (I was out school shopping, etc.)
I've had a couple of threads running where I needed Ontario specific help or suggestions and received little or no response and just thought, okay, people either can't help or don't know what to say. Or, even when I posted about how well my meeting went with the school (and yes, they do eat on the playground at this school as well), again, not a lot of response or maybe from people that I would just like to hear, glad to hear things *might* be easier for you this year, Cin.
I'm glad that you and DH had a brainstorming session and got things worked out.
What I was going to suggest, in thinking about this between reading your post (at 11:30 and now) was that perhaps you could have a written school plan implemented for your son that would adhere to school board policy where you are (as far as I can tell, from Peanut Trace, the written school plan I have for Jesse that she wrote up, adheres to school board policy throughout Ontario).
That's what my suggestion would have been.
Please let us know how it goes.
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 4:28pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

katiee, off topic, sorry, but could you tell me if I went to a psychologist (I assume pediatric?), what type of testing would I ask to have done that is what your son had done?
I understand that testing can be done through the schools but it has been my experience that it has never met mine (or Jesse's) requirements.
Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]



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