peanut free classes in Ontario?

Posted on: Mon, 07/21/2003 - 6:37am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Cindy, it was me taking rivers thread OT - not you. Hopefully here, without the word *debate* you can help me understand something you posted.

Alt to M said in another thread:

Anna Marie, in referencing the TDSB policy, no PA students do not have the *right* to a "peanut free" school. However, they do have a *right* to a "peanut free" classroom.
The same as with your previous posts:-

A "milk free" classroom
A "chicken free" classroom
A "red dye free" classroom

Throughout the province of Ontario, whether a school goes "peanut free" (that would also include "peanut safe", "reduce the risk") is entirely up to the principal of the school (and I'm sure that principal in consultation with the school board and the superintendent in charge of health *issues*).

I truly believe that "peanut free" classrooms and schools are more common because it has only been documented that PA children have DIED in school.So, I think that's why "peanut free" is more common and more heard about than say "milk free".

Question #1: Where does it say in Ontario that students have a right to an allergen free classroom? (I'm assuming not TDSB document because you are talking about the whole province.)

Question #2: Where does this info come from Also, the thing with peanut residue and it's lifespan (i.e., six months on a surface that HAS been cleaned).


I am asking these questions because I truly want to know. Seems silly to have to say this, but there are no ulterior motives.

Posted on: Mon, 07/21/2003 - 7:30am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Okay, Anna Marie, you're going to have to bear with me because, of course, I don't have any of the pertinent paperwork right beside me (or anywhere that I can find for that matter, probably in a box downstairs from my move last year).
All school board districts (public school only) in Ontario use the Anaphylaxis Handbook for Schools (you can view this by going to [url=""][/url] and I hope that is their correct website address now). Every school board district policy re anaphylaxis that I have seen from anywhere in Ontario has basically been the same. I have done quite a bit of research on this only because I've tried to help other members get their children safely into school in different parts of Ontario (and different parts of Canada).
Having said that, NO WHERE in any of the policies will you see clearly the wording *RIGHT*. It's a matter of reading between the lines.
See, I'm getting wishy washy and on something this important, I would like to have the back-up for it. I know that another member wrote up Jesse's written school plan for me, based on her PA child's written school plan and it does adhere to school board policy which does guarantee the right to a "peanut free" classroom.
When the child was identified in Ember's classroom as being allergic to red dye, I did call the other member (the one who wrote up Jesse's written school plan) and asked for clarification. Did the child, if she was anaphylactic to red dye, have the *right* to a "red dye free" classroom. Yes.
In presenting this *right*s argument to three principals and two superintendents now, no one has disputed that it is the PA child's *right* to a "peanut free" classroom.
And, consistently, along with this, I have always been told that whether a school became "peanut free" ("peanut safe", "reduce the risk") was always up to the principal of the particular school.
So, there has to be some wording in the policies, including the TDSB policy, although not as blatantly clear as *right* that does, in fact, say that.
If you can, please let me have some time to research this and I'll see if I can find the exact phrasing that we need to look at specifically. I may even contact the other member again for her input.
As far as peanut residue and it's lifespan. This was something that I read very early on. When I wrote an on-line article I think three summers ago, I did use that particular information. Then, as a lot of things do, the source of the information blipped out of my head.
In Stayner, another PA parent, trained by Anaphylaxis Canada, came to speak at my PA son's school and she was the one to say again that peanut residue has a life of six months. When I asked her where she had gotten this information, she also couldn't remember, but suggested I checked out again the [url=""][/url] website to see if the particular article was there.
I do know that it was somewhere. It's just a question of where exactly.
So, my answer to your two questions right now, not that great. Maybe something to do with also having to get dinner on and me being able to work better late at night after the kid TV isn't blaring in the background and the kids are in bed.
But definitely, no, the *right* thing is there somewhere, certainly not in bold lettering and that's why you really have to know the school board policy or look like you do to convince administration that is hard to convince. That's why I have always been so adamant about Jesse's *right* to the "peanut free" classroom.
I couldn't have become adamant because I decided personally that it was his *right*. It had to be somewhere in writing. Also, his written school plan, which does adhere to school board policy, does request the "peanut free" classroom. Again, I have had no administration argue this point with me.
Let me see what I can find, Anna Marie. It really may take a call to the other PA parent who did Jesse's written school plan for me because she is quite a bit more knowledgeable than I am (just not as vocal here at re school board policy and anaphylaxis.
I really don't like being wishy washy on something as important as this. [img][/img]
Best wishes! [img][/img]
[This message has been edited by Alternative to Mainstream (edited July 21, 2003).]

Posted on: Mon, 07/21/2003 - 7:34am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

[img][/img] Double post.
[This message has been edited by Alternative to Mainstream (edited July 21, 2003).]

Posted on: Mon, 07/21/2003 - 7:43am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Anna Marie, I'm just downloading my copy now (bummer I still don't have a printer), but if you get a chance to go through it quicker than I do, you may want to look at the Handbook [url=""][/url]
I have to get downstairs. I have two children that I am seriously thinking of sending to Grandma's cottage for a couple of weeks because the weather is so crappy here and bouncing off the walls in my home just isn't cutting it for me right now! AH!
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 07/21/2003 - 8:57am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Cindy, first, thank you very much for not ignoring my first request, when I posted in the totally wrong place. I really appreciate that you said "No, I don't want to debate" rather than just ignoring me.
Second, thank you very much for the information you have provided. I'm kinda going crazy here too (my son was sick - now on antibiotic and still bouncing from the tempra he was getting last week). I do totally understand what you've written, and there's no need for you to keep looking right now. I'll check these links out (hopefully tomorrow [img][/img] ).
Also, You know me to well. [img][/img]
I probably would have questioned this:
[b]Having said that, NO WHERE in any of the policies will you see clearly the wording *RIGHT*. It's a matter of reading between the lines. [/b]
when I couldn't find it between the lines. I may have more questions later, but for now, I think you've given me lots to check.
Thanks again. [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 07/21/2003 - 10:28am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Anna Marie, I'm going to take a wild guess here, okay? I don't think school boards want to put the *right* word in there so that we PA parents (and other parents of FA children other than PA) actually do have to know our stuff. Does that make sense?
Here's what happened with me, experience wise, not paperwork wise with Jesse. I had the meeting with his JK teacher and she basically told me that he would be sitting beside other children eating pb. I thought, okay, he doesn't have to go to school legally in Ontario for another two years (Grade 1) so I'll simply keep him home. But he was such a social, outgoing and intelligent little guy and I really really wanted him to go to JK, just like probably every other parent wants their child to go to JK.
I had a 20 minute walk home from the meeting with the teacher and a good stop in the peanut free donut shop on the corner before heading home. Along the way, I thought to myself, my soul, there must be something in place to accommodate a PA child in the school system.
This was long before I had the internet or knew where to turn to. I also didn't know any other PA parents and lo and behold, of course, Jesse was going to be the first PA child (that they knew about) in their school.
So, I called the school board. I asked to speak with someone and outlined my situation.
I was given the superintendent that is in charge of health issues, including anaphylaxis. He was a pretty amazing man and I still remember his name. (The superintendent I've dealt with for the past two years has been even more incredibly amazing than this first man and that blows me away when I think about it. He has been so open to discussions with me, strange questions, etc. and a lot of "off the record" comments about why they do or do not do things a certain way - i.e., why they don't have asthma policies in the schools, etc.).
At any rate, it was the superintendent in charge of health issues, I'm sure upon checking the school board policy re anaphylaxis that told me that Jesse had the *right* to the "peanut free" classroom. Since children are streamed in in JK and SK, what we did was basically Jesse started last in his class so that every child before him had notification that the classroom was "peanut free".
The superintendent also sent me a copy of Simcoe County Board of Education school board policy re anaphylaxis. It is basically the same as ones I have seen now for just outside of Hamilton, Hamilton itself, Kingston, and the school board district I'm in now, Hastings Prince Edward. The wording may change a little bit (or in the case of moving to Hastings Prince Edward they did have that awkward liability waiver they wanted me to sign, which I did not), but it's basically the same throughout this whole province.
And that's why it's fairly easy, once you know how to really read the school board policy to implement the written school plan that I have for Jesse. It doesn't infringe on school board policy re anaphylaxis at all, but simply provides more guidelines to the "right" of the "peanut free" classroom (point-by-point details re field trips, etc.).
Now, again, when faced with the red dye allergy this year, I wasn't quite sure, since it wasn't PA, but I did contact the person who wrote Jesse's school plan based on her child's. Her child is also anaphylactic to milk. And it was her that was able to tell me that yes, a child that was anaphylactic to red dye has the *right* to a "red dye free" classroom.
The trouble with that particular situation was that the Mother didn't know where to start, even as far as getting medical documentation re her child's allergy. She approached me, not knowing I was the PA Mom complaining about all the hoops that were being jumped through for the PA child in her oldest daughter's class when her youngest daughter had a red dye allergy. Well, I told her that she should speak with the principal immediately, which she did. I also did tell her that I was the PA child's Mom (I don't know if there was any blushing involved on her part or not).
At any rate, she never did follow-up with the school.
I managed to blow the cover of a TNA child in Jesse's class with his principal and teacher simply because I mentioned it during a meeting and the school didn't know about it. I did post about it here and I know I felt terribly about it.
The other PA child in Jesse's school did have a "peanut free" classroom but her parents' requirements were not the same as mine were.
As far as the chocolate and red dye allergies that were in Ember's class, none of these were followed-up on by the parents.
I'm not clear what it is. I don't know why parents don't know that they can call the school board (certainly the parents this year that wanted to complain about the "peanut free" classroom knew where to call).
But I do know that I have made many calls throughout Ontario (and to other provinces as well) on behalf of other PA parents that honestly did not know where to start.
I don't know why four years ago in Stayner I knew to call the school board. I just did.
And that's why I think you will not see, in the TDSB policy or any other policy the outright use of *right*.
Personally, I have never minded having to do the work to get Jesse safely into school. It would be absolutely fantastic if there was a "peanut free" school and I didn't have to worry about it as much. It can be extremely stressful to pioneer and also come across like Psycho Mom from He**. But I know that the boards have never argued with me because somewhere in that policy, PA children do have at least that *right*.
Of course, the actual workings of a "peanut free" classroom do vary depending on the needs of the PA parent/child. For example, this year, the Grade 1 class allowed "may contains" whereas Jesse's Grade 2 class, based on his written school plan, did NOT allow "may contains" (and we all know what a big problem that turned out to be this year).
In speaking with the superintendent here this year, he told me that basically Jesse will have a "peanut free" classroom until he reaches Grade 8. Then things are kinda up in the air (and I'm not looking forward to that, let me tell you).
I think probably province wide this would be the case everywhere. Once you hit high school, totally different ball game.
I would have to check to see if anyone in Ontario has every heard of a "peanut free" classroom or school in high school (remember, eating venues change in high school and the children start eating in the cafeteria rather than their classrooms).
I've had a rotten day, but I'll try to look at the handbook later tonight. I swear, I have two children here who I would be willing to ship to Grandma tomorrow (and please remember, the Grandma I'm talking about is my MIL so that's saying a lot!).
Hope this helped.
And I didn't think you had any ulterior motives, I just thought you asked for further clarification.
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Mon, 07/21/2003 - 12:51pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Don't worry about hunting stuff up for me right now. You've definitely given me enough. And I do know you're very busy.
I do understand what you mean about them not using the word *right*. I feel the same way about the TDSB guideline. It sort of leaves you with that feeling, but it isn't actually put in black and white. And, every public (and catholic) school that I've asked parents, the school is peanut free. So, if these guidelines have so many principals going peanut free, yes, I can understand that even without using the word *right*, it is an understood *right* throughout the province. These guidelines are obviously based on the documents you've told me about (the provincial ones) and they (TDSB) make it clear they cover all allergies.
BTW, the high school my son went to (which is associated with the public school, which is peanut free) does not have a peanut ban other than in the daycare centre. However, I was told they don't ever actually serve peanut/pb products. I know right now that doesn't sound like enough to you - but by the time Jesse is old enough for high school, maybe it will be. Because teenagers tend to have a wider variety of food (i.e. not pb&j every day) and we can only hope, they aren't quite as messy when eating. [img][/img]
And, although this has nothing to do with this topic at all, just thought you might like to know this - the daycare centre at that high school has a peanut ban whether or not there is a pa child there. Because children are in and out all the time, and they have had a few with pa, they feel it is less confusing for the other parents to always have a peanut ban, rather than this week it's banned, then next week it's OK, then in two months its banned, etc. We are becoming an [i]allergy aware society[/i].

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