Please review this letter to parents and give feedback - thanks!

Posted on: Thu, 07/08/2004 - 1:22pm
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I was given permission to draft a letter for the school to send home to the parents with the info packets they send home in late summer. I'm certain they will be editing, but this is the basic document I came up with:

We are writing to the parents to ask for their assistance. One of our incoming students this year has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts. Ingestion of even minute traces of peanuts can trigger a potentially fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Even exposure to the oily residue from peanut and peanut butter containing products can have serious health consequences. For this reason, we are asking parents to voluntarily refrain from sending peanut butter and peanut containing items (such as trail mix) for snacks and lunches.

It is important for all of our students to have a safe learning environment. It is for this reason we ask for your help. Our children are never too young to learn compassion and sympathy, and we look forward to this year as a wonderful opportunity for the kids to learn how to work together as a team to create a healthy, positive experience for all.

We anticipate some questions from parents:

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Once the immune system decides that a particular food is harmful, it creates specific antibodies to it. The next time the individual eats that food the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, including histamine, in order to protect the body. These chemicals trigger a cascade of allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system, which can lead to anaphylaxis.

What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe, potentially fatal, systemic allergic reaction that can involve various areas of the body (such as the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and cardiovascular system). Symptoms often occur within a few minutes to two hours after contact with the allergy-causing substance, but in rare instances may occur up to four hours later. Anaphylactic reactions can range from moderate to life-threatening. The annual incidence of anaphylactic reactions is about 30 per 100,000 persons, and individuals with asthma, eczema, or hay fever are at greater relative risk of experiencing anaphylaxis.

Why would my child's school ask me to avoid sending peanut products?

Whether it is your child or another child in the same school, everyone's co-operation is necessary to help make the environment as peanut-free as possible. Peanut allergies are usually severe and can be fatal. In fact, even a tiny amount of exposure to peanut particles or residue through the eyes, nose or mouth can cause a peanut allergy sufferer to experience anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Without medical treatment, the person can die within minutes.

Why should my child have to give up a food they love? Can't the allergic child simply not eat anything with peanuts?

Because of the nature of peanut allergies, having the allergic child simply avoid eating peanut products is not enough. Peanuts tend to leave residue on things like utensils, toys, books, desktops, clothing, and skin. Even unintentionally touching something contaminated with peanut residue and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth can lead to anaphylaxis in the allergic child.

How can peanuts be avoided?

Avoiding peanuts means not sending any foods from home for snacks and lunches that contain peanut products. If peanut butter is one of your child's favorite foods, you may feel some despair about what else to provide. Luckily, there are safe alternatives to peanut butter, for example:

Posted on: Fri, 07/09/2004 - 12:49am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Just bumping hoping folks will see it today...
[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Fri, 07/09/2004 - 2:47am
California Mom's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

I think it is mostly excellent! I would be inclined to switch a few things around at the beginning - to really emphasize what you are asking. I also changed a few words in other places and at the end. I hope you don't mind my comments.
Perhaps I might also switch the safe food suggestions to a separate page, in case people want to post it on their fridge or keep it somewhere else convenient. (We can dream, right?!) [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Miriam
[quote]Originally posted by Munchkin's Mom:
[b] ...this is the basic document I came up with:
We are writing to the parents to ask for their assistance. One of our incoming students this year has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts. Ingestion of even minute traces of peanuts can trigger a potentially fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Even exposure to the oily residue from peanut and peanut butter containing products can have serious health consequences. For this reason, we are asking parents to voluntarily refrain from sending peanut butter and peanut containing items (such as trail mix) for snacks and lunches. [/b]
I think I might say something like:
"Dear parents, we are asking for your cooperation to help one of your child's classmates who has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts. This child's allergy is so severe that ingesting even minute traces of peanuts could trigger a potentially fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Even exposure to the oily residue from peanut and peanut butter containing products could have serious health consequences. For this reason, we are asking parents to voluntarily refrain from sending peanut butter and peanut containing items (such as trail mix) for snacks and lunches.
We understand that this request may cause some inconvenience. However, because it is important for all of our students to have a safe learning environment we are hoping that we can count on your help. Our children are never too young to learn compassion and empathy for others. We believe that our students will be willing to cooperate with this request, even if they must save their favorite foods to eat at home. This special situation will provide an opportunity for our students to learn how to work together as a team to create a healthy, positive experience for all.
We anticipate some questions from parents:
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Once the immune system decides that a particular food is harmful, it creates specific antibodies to it. The next time the individual eats that food the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, including histamine, in order to protect the body. These chemicals trigger a cascade of allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system, which can lead to anaphylaxis.
What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe, potentially fatal, systemic allergic reaction that can involve various areas of the body (such as the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and cardiovascular system). Symptoms often occur within a few minutes to two hours after contact with the allergy-causing substance, but in rare instances may occur up to four hours later. Anaphylactic reactions can range from moderate to life-threatening. The annual incidence of anaphylactic reactions is about 30 per 100,000 persons, and individuals with asthma, eczema, or hay fever are at greater relative risk of experiencing anaphylaxis.
Why would my child's school ask me to avoid sending peanut products?
Whether it is your child or another child in the same school, everyone's co-operation is necessary to help make the environment as peanut-free as possible. Peanut allergies are usually severe and can be fatal. In fact, even a tiny amount of exposure to peanut particles or residue through the eyes, nose or mouth can cause a peanut allergy sufferer to experience anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Without medical treatment, the person can die within minutes.
Why should my child have to give up a food they love? Can't the allergic child simply not eat anything with peanuts?
Because of the nature of peanut allergies, having the allergic child simply avoid eating peanut products is not enough. Peanuts tend to leave residue on things like utensils, toys, books, desktops, clothing, and skin. Even unintentionally touching something contaminated with peanut residue and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth can lead to anaphylaxis in the allergic child.
How can peanuts be avoided?
Avoiding peanuts means not sending any foods from home for snacks and lunches that contain peanut products. If peanut butter is one of your child's favorite foods, you may feel some despair about what else to provide. Luckily, there are safe alternatives to peanut butter, for example:

Posted on: Fri, 07/09/2004 - 3:37am
synthia's picture
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Joined: 10/05/2002 - 09:00

I like the letter it give a lot on info.
On the seperate snack list ,I agree with California Mom
I also would change this-- Why should my child have to give up a food they love? Can't the allergic child simply not eat anything with peanuts?
I would say somthing like ....
I am not asking you to [b] give up peanutbutter altogather[/b] Like this child has to,I am asking for you to not send it in for lunch or snakes 8-2pm.
May be somthing like --if you eat Peanutbutter for breakfast PLEASE wash you hands and brush you teeth,this will reduce the risk of exposure foe these children.
Love this site
Synthia
Edited to add- along with California Mom's sugg.
[This message has been edited by synthia (edited July 09, 2004).]

Posted on: Fri, 07/09/2004 - 4:02am
Chicago's picture
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Joined: 04/21/2001 - 09:00

My first take on the letter was that it was very well written, but too long. I suspect that many parents would not read the whole thing - especially if it is in with other school info that will need their attention.
I like the idea about making the safe lunch/snack suggestion list a seperate page, as that would shorten the letter, as well as give them something to hold on to or pass on to the "lunch maker".
I am sort of wondering about the part where you write about what will happen if a child does bring peanuts etc... what they will be asked to do. Half of me says that you could write this assuming that people will cooperate (yes - I realize they all won't)and then deal with what happens when they don't later. I understand that you want to let them know that there child will be asked to do different things if they are eating peanut products - but it sort of makes the rest of your message seem optional (like "well Jimmy can still eat his PBJ, he'll just have to wash his hands and the table afterwards - no big deal").
I'm not sure I have a great suggestion on how to rework that part of the letter, just wanted to let you know some of my fragmented impressions. Hope it made some sense.
Great that the school is letting/having you do this! Good Luck!
[This message has been edited by Chicago (edited July 09, 2004).]

Posted on: Fri, 07/09/2004 - 10:32am
California Mom's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

two more comments from me:
I actually do like your question and answer "Why should my child have to give up a food they love? Can't the allergic child simply not eat anything with peanuts?" I think it addresses exactly what a lot of parents are thinking when they read the request to not bring peanuts to school. I think it shows them that you understand their point of view. (Sorry to disagree, synthia! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] )
Also, I think Chicago does raise an excellent point. Though I, too, am not exactly sure how you would want to proceed with that.
[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Miriam

Posted on: Fri, 07/09/2004 - 1:43pm
synthia's picture
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Joined: 10/05/2002 - 09:00

Sorry to disagree,synthia!
No problem,that is what this bb is all about.IMHO [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Love this site
Synthia

Posted on: Sun, 07/11/2004 - 5:07am
Going Nuts's picture
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Joined: 10/04/2001 - 09:00

Great letter!
I would consider eliminating the "The annual incidence of anaphylactic reactions is about 30 per 100,000 persons" figure. Someone who doesn't really have a good grasp of statistics might think of it as an insignificant amount. If you want to provide a statistic, maybe FAAN can provide you with a current one on how many [b]children[/b] suffer anaphylaxis each year, since that might hit home with them.
I like the food suggestions idea - we did that when my son's preschool went peanut free, and it eliminated a lot of the opposition.
Best of luck. Please let us know how it is received.
Amy

Posted on: Sun, 07/11/2004 - 8:49am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Same as most other people:-
- would provide a separate Snack and Lunch List
- wouldn't give the option of what happens should someone bring in pb
- also really like the alternatives provided to pb with the question that was asked because it is heard so often as an argument against why the "peanut free" classroom can't possibly work
Excellent stuff! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] I'm also really pleased for you that you were able to write your own letter. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 07/13/2004 - 1:23am
JSaastad's picture
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Joined: 03/29/2002 - 09:00

The letter is great. My schools letter will contain a separate perforated section that asks the parent to sign stating that they received the information. It doesn't ask them to agree to following the items in the letter, just to sign off that they received and read the letter.
Jill

Posted on: Tue, 07/13/2004 - 2:21am
synthia's picture
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Joined: 10/05/2002 - 09:00

It doesn't ask them to agree to following the items in the letter, just to sign off that they received and read the letter.
This is what[b]WE[/b] the (1st school) and the parents agreed on (in writing),Later the 1st school came back and said [b]NO[/b] we can not ask for the parents to sign!!!!
hmmmmmmm Does that constitute voliating her 504???
good luck let us know how it goes?
Love this site
Synthia

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