Our Peanut Free School Once Again Does NOT Get It!

Posted on: Thu, 05/24/2001 - 6:51am
katiee's picture
Joined: 05/09/2001 - 09:00

pAlthough my PA son will not be attending school for another year, my two older children are in a peanut free school./p
pMy 5 year old will soon have her Kindergarten Graduation. A letter came home today requesting that we provide food for the party. They suggested, among other things, cup cakes, cookies, etc. Nowhere was it mentioned that these foods have to be peanut free!/p
pThey had a celebration last year in JR K which I attended with my PA son who was 2 at the time. We ended up having to leave because of the many unsafe foods that were laid out on a table which he had easy access to./p
pI just finished writing a polite but strongly worded letter to the Kindergarten teachers outlining their mistake and asking that another letter be sent out to the parents requesting "safe" foods only. I also mentioned that my son would be soon attending the school and I would be a visible parent in ensuring his safety./p
pI had spoken to Chris about the school situation some time ago, and Chris, you were right. I still have a whole year before Wade starts, and from the looks of things I have alot of work to do. /p
pI know many parents here do not have access to peanut free schools, my bone of contention, so to speak, is the fact that our school has chosen to call itself "PEANUT FREE" and for that reason I am prepared to do battle to ensure that it is exactly that. I am also prepared to demand that Wade be allowed to attend another school if I can not be assured of his safety. Here in Ottawa, we have to get "special permission" for children to attend schools outside of our specific zones./p
pThe tragic death of Nathan Walters just showed me beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we have to be a visible presence at our children's schools and I am positive that Wade will not be attending "any" field trip if my husband or I can not be there with him./p
pKatiee (Wade's mom)/p

Posted on: Wed, 05/30/2001 - 6:56am
katiee's picture
Joined: 05/09/2001 - 09:00

Just thought I'd let you all know that I did write a letter to my dd's SK teachers, this is what I wrote:
May 24, 2001
Dear Mrs. XXXXXX and Mme. XXXXXXXXX,
I was pleased to receive your letter outlining the children

Posted on: Wed, 05/30/2001 - 7:32am
torontosue's picture
Joined: 06/08/2001 - 09:00

AAAAARRRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!! Don't they just make you want to scream? This just really gets to me. Sometimes I think they say "peanut free" just to shut us up. They have GOT to realize that it's more then just words, they have to support us and work at it themselves! How about if you draft out a letter to the parents and bring it in to the school explaining what is required for this party? Make sure you include some of the stories about Nathan in there for the teachers to make sure they realize this is serious.
Why do they have to have a food party anyway? That just frustrates the heck out of me that everything at school has to be rewarded with food. I can't for the life of me ever once remember eating at school as a kid! When my PA son graduated from Kindergarten we went in for a graduation ceremony and then had the kids serve us (the parents) drinks and "safe" cookies provided by the 2 PA Moms in the class, me and one other. There were only 18 kids in the class so it wasn't like we had to make that many cookies and there were more then enough for both parents and kids.

Posted on: Wed, 05/30/2001 - 9:52am
katiee's picture
Joined: 05/09/2001 - 09:00

Thank you for responding Sue, I was feeling kind of alone on this one. I think your idea of drafting a letter to the parents is great although I'm not too sure how receptive the school would be to that. Gives you a bit of an idea of what I'm up against. I just feel the school is simply paying lip service to the "peanut free" policy. I know that Wade does not start school there for another year, but in discussing this issue with Chris, he warned me to get started on them ASAP, and as it turns out, he's absolutely right. I know there are many who post here who do not have peanut free schools for their PA children, I just want my school to follow through on the policy they decided to adopt, nothing more, nothing less!
I also like your idea of making all the cookies myself, but with 5 SR K classes, that's alot of baking, even for me...LOL
I agree with you, why on earth do so many things in primary school revolve around food? I can't for the life of me figure that one out!
Thanks again Sue, I'll let you know what happens.
Katiee (Wade's mom)

Posted on: Wed, 05/30/2001 - 11:47pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Katiee, I am not clear as to how to resolve the "issue" of the second note that came home to parents asking for the goods to be "peanut free". When I spoke with the organizer of the Fun Fair here, she seemed to think of peanut products as pb, pb cookies, and for some strange (to me) reason peanut oil. Her thinking re peanuts did NOT go any further than this. I suspect that this would be the case with ALL parents not directly dealing with a peanut allergy in their own home.
I also can't understand this fascination with food at school. Now, as everyone knows, I do have difficulty remembering my own name on a good day, but I honestly can't remember eating at school for a party.
In future letters to the school, I would change the wording of request to requirement.
Not, it is my request, but it is my requirement. Although request does sound a lot nicer, it does leave room for the school to somehow say no, but requirement does not.
I learned that difference of wording when PeanutTrace responded to the problem I'm having with my son's school right now. I actually had to write it down on my computer working paper so that I would remember to use requirement rather than request when e-mailing the principal to confirm that I want all three Kindergarten classes to be "peanut free" for ONE day for the upcoming Field Trip.
Have you seen a copy of your local school board district's board policy regarding PA?
If you haven't, I highly recommend that you get one. I truly believe that you would be able to fine tooth comb this document yourself, but if not, there is a wealth of help available, within our province, of other PA parents who would be willing to look at it for you. Currently, I have another PA parent looking at my school board policy, fine tooth combing it for me. This is after my son has attended school for two years. I wish I had had the forethought that I see a lot of people displaying here because it is an arduous process.
Also, is it possible for you to request from the principal of the school, his/her WRITTEN guidelines for a "peanut free" school? If your school board policy is anything mine and another one I have seen from the same province we both live in, the decision for a "peanut free" school lies with the PRINCIPAL ( [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] ). So, the principal SHOULD have written guidelines for a "peanut free" school. If he/she doesn't, then I would suggest that you may have a lot more work ahead of you than you had expected.
Earlier in the year, my son's principal took to calling her school "Reduce the Risk". I would have loved the terminology if she had been doing anything different than providing my son with a "peanut free" classroom. Each day this irritated me more and more. Finally, I asked her if I could see the written guidelines for a "reduce the risk" environment. When I found out that there weren't any, I stressed the need for WRITTEN guidelines and that I would do anything/everything to help her get some guidelines down. Her response - she would simply stop calling the school "reduce the risk". She also blamed the terminology on school board policy lingo BUT no where in my school board policy is that terminology used.
I would also find out NOW the superintendent's name who is the boss of the principal of that particular school. Another PA parent, also in our province, e-mailed me and told me that my school situation was out of hand and that I was to contact the superintendent IMMEDIATELY. Of course, it took Nathan's death and an upcoming field trip for my son to get motivated to write the letter as I am SO afraid of confrontation.
I do wish that I could think of some suggestion as to how to handle the actual problem that you're having right now. I think I, myself, would write a letter to the other parents (5 classes, eh?) and explain what "peanut free" really means in clear, concise (who am I to speak about concise? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] ) terms. You could also provide your name and telephone number and ask anyone to contact you with ANY question/concern that you have.
Katiee, I hope I have been of some help re this.
To me, it is simply another thing that infuriates me. I would rather have a school make NO policy re PA at all so at least I clearly knew where I stood. With the way it is in our province, you can get "peanut free" classrooms, "reduce the risk" schools, and "peanut free" schools but it does seem to be VERY unclear to the principals running the schools what they should be doing to be able to use that terminology in the first place.
Also, I'd like to say kudos for starting work on this so far in advance. I wish I had done the same and maybe I wouldn't be sitting here, bang head, brick, bang head, brick.
Please let us know what happens.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Thu, 05/31/2001 - 12:03am
torontosue's picture
Joined: 06/08/2001 - 09:00

Katiee, I'm not sure how much help this would be to you, but I was browsing through the cadvision site and found a great definition on cross-contamination. Maybe you want to check it out and see if it could help you to draft a letter to the parents. Or even if you print this out and give it to the school so they have a better understanding.
I really like Cindy's term "requirement" over "request" It gets the point across however still sounds more polite then " I demand!"
Anyway, here's the link....hope it works.

Posted on: Thu, 05/31/2001 - 1:13am
katiee's picture
Joined: 05/09/2001 - 09:00

Thans you Cindy and Sue. I am going to contact the school principal for a copy of the written school policy with regard to the "peanut free" policy, as well as the school board and hopefully I will have this done before the end of the school year so I'll have something to work with over the summer months.
In the mean time, I have this graduation to contend with. Thank you Sue for the link. I had actually printed out the article in quastion a number of months ago for Wade's preschool but this made me re-read it and I am going to send another letter to Lauren's teachers with direct quotes from the letter. I am going to remind them that it is their duty to ensure that the foods served at the party are truly "peanut free".
I was talking to a friend last night who has a dd in the public board,, their policy when food is requested is that ALL homemade foods be accompanied by the recipe so that the teacher can see if it is indeed safe. I think I really like that idea and I am going to see if I can have that implemented for Wade's class when he starts school.
I can't say that I blame any of the parents in this, at all, because unless you are the parent of a PA child, I can't imagine they would have any idea what the heck cross contamination means. I guess it will be up to me to make sure that they are aware.
Thanks again guys! I'm off to write my letter.
Katiee (Wade's mom)

Posted on: Thu, 05/31/2001 - 1:54am
Beth's picture
Joined: 03/06/1999 - 09:00

Sue, thank you for the link! What a huge amount of information, if you click on the link at the bottom of the cross-cantamination article....WOW! Now I will never get my work done around here..I have tons of reading to do! My daughter will start high school in the fall and I need to educate everyone...this site will help tremendously. Now, if I have about 100 sheets of printer paper....

Posted on: Thu, 05/31/2001 - 11:25am
kelly01's picture
Joined: 03/19/2001 - 09:00

Okay, please don't take this the wrong way...I am just unclear as to what "peanut free" school means as we do not have them in my area. I definately agree that the school dropped the ball in not being vigilant in notifying parents that no peanut products are allowed. I would be exasperated!
I considered Dan's preschool classroom to be "peanut free" this year as no one was allowed to bring in peanut products. However, does "peanut free" mean that even possible cross contaminants need to be eliminated? For my son, I am mainly concerned that no "peanut products" are allowed (ie, peanut butter,cookies and treats w/peanuts, etc), as these pose a danger to him even if he doesn't eat them. However, I may not let him eat Nestle Chocolate chips or non-peanut bakery food due to cross contamination...but because the amount of peanuts (if any) is so small, they do not pose a danger to him unless he ingests them. I do not have a problem with these items being offered, and on those days, he is given an alternative snack.
Again, please don't take this the wrong way. I am simply trying to understand, because to me, "peanut free" does not necessarily mean that Dan can eat everything that is brought into the classroom, just that it doesn't pose a life-threatening risk for him to be in the classroom with the food. Is it different for you?

Posted on: Thu, 05/31/2001 - 11:27am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Katiee: I recently encountered a similar problem where my daughter's preschool sent out a letter to parents telling them that the classroom was "nut" free. My daughter is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and the letter should have included BOTH things as prohibited. When I suggested that the school send another letter to the parents clarifying what they could and could not bring to the class, the teacher thought I was crazy. She actually told me that "peanuts are a byproduct of nuts."
In you situation as well as mine, those responsible for sending the letter are just not as informed about these allergies (aren't they lucky!) as we are and they are also overworked and underpaid in most cases.
In an attempt to fix the situation without further alienating the teacher, I sent another letter inviting the parents for coffee so that I could answer any questions they may have about the food restrictions (since you are dealing with 5 classrooms you probably cannot do this!). I also included a 1 page information sheet about peanut/tree nut allergies and anaphylaxis and FAAN's "How to read a label" information for peanuts and tree nuts. Many parents commented to me how helpful the information was.
Is there any other information about the event that needs to be conveyed to parents? Maybe you could offer to "help" the organizers of the graduation event by drafting any letters and making your point at the same time.
All that being said, I still get extremely nervous at events where all different people are bringing food. Everyone makes mistakes and the risk of cross contamination is huge. You might just want to keep your youngest child at home this time.
Good luck.

Posted on: Thu, 05/31/2001 - 12:21pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

kelly01, your question re what is actually a "peanut free" classroom was excellent and I guess it depends on the parent(s) of the PA child and the teacher and principal. At Christmas time, I found out that the Pillsbury Slice and Bake holiday cookies were imported from the U.S. and not re-labeled to indicate that they were a "may contain" product.
I contacted my son's teacher who I had an excellent relationship with re PA and wish he still had her. I said that I felt okay about the Pillsbury cookies being served as long as my son didn't consume any of them. She was extremely adamant. She said, No, Cindy, my classroom is "peanut free" which means I will NOT allow any "may contain" products into my classroom.
Now, this was just one teacher's idea of what a "peanut free" classroom is, so that's why I say I guess it depends on the teacher, principal and parent. In that case, I was willing to let the "may contain" product into the classroom as long as my son didn't eat any. However, I must say that I welcomed her decision as this was one less thing to worry about.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]


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