School staff meeting

Posted on: Mon, 05/07/2001 - 12:06pm
MyNick's picture
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Joined: 04/13/2001 - 09:00

pHoping someone out there reads and offers some advice. My son who is PA/TNA apperently is smell sensitive. he will be entering Kindergarten in Sept. I have had numerous phone conversations with the principal regarding his condition and his safety. He seems to be genuinely concerned and wants me to come his faculty staff meeting and talk about the seriousness of food allergies. They do not have any serious PA students in the school, which I seem to think is odd. What can I say to these teachers that will get their attention?I know they have PBJ sandwiches on the school menu and kids bring it in from home. I would love to persuade the into being peanut free. Any suggestions????/p

Posted on: Mon, 05/07/2001 - 12:22pm
Mike and Missy's picture
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Joined: 04/26/2001 - 09:00

I would have loved the chance for one of these meetings. Fortunately my son has a pa/ta free classroom. (As free as it can be) I would really press for this. Especially if you know your child is touch/smell sensitive. The classroom is a much more controlled environment allowing it to be relatively safe. Also, let the teachers know to push handwashing and not sharing food constantly. In our school a teacher's assistant checked the lunches daily to make sure everything was considered safe. Make a booklet of good lunch recipes for the teachers to hand out to parents in order to give them easy access to easy lunches. Offer to be the "food parent" for the classroom. You will make the treats for all special occasions. If all goes well, send a thank you at the end of the year to the parents and staff ready to help. Unfortunately, my son's school has not lived up to the standards set in previous years, this year!! Next year I will have to become my child's active "advocate" again and remain constantly involved. On another note, expect some backs to be up in the air. Hopefully this will not be the case, but when people are not educated on the matter they feel vulnerable.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
P.S. When I hear of Pa/ta free "schools", it frightens me. I cannot imagine how you control such a large environment. I would be afraid of my child depending more on the "safe environment" than with his own gut instincts and basic survival skills such as handwashing and not sharing! Just a thought.

Posted on: Mon, 05/07/2001 - 1:21pm
kelly01's picture
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Joined: 03/19/2001 - 09:00

Back in another life (I am a SAHM now) when I was "working"LOL...I found that people respond well to their own ideas. You might try this,
1)Go in and explain the facts (ie,what causes a reaction -- eating, touch and smell--, what the reaction entails, what needs to be done in the event of a reaction,etc. I have found that the facts (calling 911, administering EPI, etc) usually speak for themselves. I would also add in something about the rise in serious allergies. This way they realize that what they are implementing now will probably be useful for other students as well.
2)Then maybe discuss the steps you take in your household to prevent peanut exposure (ie, not eating peanut products, washing hands if you have been out somewhere w/peanut products,etc)
3) Then I would turn to them and say "I have a few ideas as to how we could make this a safe environment for my son. However, YOU as the teachers/staff of the school are the experts on how the school runs. What ideas do YOU have on how we can effectively make this a safe environment."
I would bet donuts to dollars that someone in the meeting comes up with wiping down tables, handwashing, peanut free table,etc. If not, you still have left yourself room to bring these ideas to the table yourself.
I should add that I just used this technique on the staff where I teach sunday school (although it was an impromptu discussion so I was not as prepared as you will be) and it worked like a charm.
Good Luck!!!
[This message has been edited by kelly01 (edited May 07, 2001).]

Posted on: Tue, 05/08/2001 - 4:13am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Mike and Missy - with regard to your comment on peanut-free schools being scary, I feel compelled to give you more information on what being a peanut-free school means.
First of all, the entire school community is involved in this decision, and it consists of letters sent home to parents with some PA education included, asking parents not to send peanut products to school, asking parents to read labels on their children's snacks to ensure there is no "may contain peanuts" warning, etc.
The second line of defense is teacher awareness. The first onus is on the parents of non-allergic children to stop sending peanut products, but the second onus in on the teachers to inspect the snacks that kids bring, to ensure they're safe. Teachers intercept unsafe snacks and usually have safe alternatives so the child will not go hungry.
Teachers are also educated in EpiPen usage, symptoms of a reaction and other methods of dealing with a worst case scenario.
The children are taught not to share snacks and are supervised during lunchtime. Children are taught to wash their hands after eating (and before) in case an unsafe product was consumed outside, during recess for example. Cleanliness is still a concern, even though most peanut products have presumably been eliminated. The desks are washed, lunchtables are cleaned - none of these hygenic measures suffer just because a school is peanut-free.
The school does not declare itself peanut-free without ensuring the above precautions are in place, and they do not become complacent during the school year. The teachers check the children's snacks on the 100th day of school as closely as the first day. Being peanut-free is a lot of work and a huge responsibility, but once defensive measures are in place, and kept in place, it truly does help the child stay safe by minimizing possible peanut contact.
As for the huge environment, once again, each individual teacher takes precautions to ensure the school is peanut-free, so this breaks it down into a more managable option.
Some doctors warn that having a peanut-free school may lead to complacency on the part of educators, but this has not been the case in my son's peanut-free school (the one that Cayley will be attending next year). They freely admit that they "strive" to be peanut-free, which means they are always on the alert for peanut products, but they can't absolutely guarantee something won't slip by. It's by realizing that peanut-free doesn't automatically mean completely safe, they stay on their toes.
[This message has been edited by Cayley's Mom (edited May 08, 2001).]

Posted on: Tue, 05/08/2001 - 11:56pm
Mike and Missy's picture
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Joined: 04/26/2001 - 09:00

I totally can understand your point of view. I am happy to hear that your school is so accomodating. The teachers in my child's school took the epi-training course as well, and I have spoken at great lengths with them, however they still do not seem to take the matter very seriously. I have contacted the superintendant, and she was on the defensive immediately. I have to say that I am not a person to rant and rave, or purposely raise a "stink". If I had a staff so willing to help I would love the idea of a "peanut and nut free school". I don't have that. Kid's share food all of the time (not my son) and this seems to be no big deal. In my situation I do not want my son to rely on these people to help him be safe, because I certainly do not trust them to go above and beyond their duty. I will keep trying to make sure his class is as free of nuts as possible, remind him to wash his hands regularly and not to share food.
I hope you continue to receive the support from your child's school. More of this support is needed.
Cheers!

Posted on: Wed, 05/09/2001 - 2:28pm
California Mom's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

Wow, Kelly01; I just have to tell you how impressed I am with what you wrote! I am definitely going to try that approach. I wish I had known about it at the meeting I recently had with our principal and school nurse. Thank you for your brilliant thoughts. Miriam

Posted on: Wed, 05/09/2001 - 10:43pm
MyNick's picture
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Joined: 04/13/2001 - 09:00

Kelly01-- thanks for the great advise. I will defintiely take that approach.
Please keeps these ideas coming. One on my concerns is that I do not break down when talking. I just can't help it. I KNOW there are worse medical conditions, but, It is a very sensitive topic... and i need to be strong to get this message across. I know it is my job to make a difference.. and I am fortunate to get this chance.

Posted on: Thu, 05/10/2001 - 3:19am
kelly01's picture
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Joined: 03/19/2001 - 09:00

Just another FYI from my above suggestions:
To open the discussion, I would definately "personalize" it a little bit. Talk briefly about your family and what it was like for you and your child. If you feel you might get emotional, keep it brief...giving them some personal history will give them empathy for you if it does turn emotional. Relate back to them and their own children/situations,ie "any of you who have dealt with emergency situations in your family can imagine how I felt to see my son/daughter, etc"
Second, when you turn the tables back on them (ie, what are their suggestions) COUNT TO TEN while you are awaiting your responses from them. You might initially be met w/silence, but people HATE silence and eventually, someone will speak up. As the leader of the discussion it is hard not to jump in and fill the silence...but count to 10 before you do it. (I have conducted many seminars, and I have never gotten to 10...someone always speaks up...but the silence can be never wracking).
Good luck!!!!!!

Posted on: Thu, 05/10/2001 - 10:35am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Hi, All!
My son won't start kindergarten until 2002, so I can't add to the on-going topic here, but I think here might be a good place to ask this question. Has anyone had any problems with the school having to 'adjust' any plans that have been agreed on and already put in place?
For example, I'm pretty sure our son will be the first PA at his school. We're not even sure exactly how much we're going to have to ask for to keep him safe. We're not sure if he will react to being in the cafeteria with all the PBJ sandwiches (airborne). How do we approach the possibility that whatever plans (IEP) we make, may need to be changed as the days go by?? Has anyone dealt with this? Any suggestions?
We're planning to meet with the principal early next month, for the first time. Any advice for this VERY FIRST (preliminary) meeting? We're trying to find out what the school knows, doesn't know, etc... It's not really going to be an all-encompassing meeting, I don't think.
Thanks, and I hope it was okay to throw this question into the thread here. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Sun, 05/13/2001 - 10:44pm
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Just wanted to bring this back up to the top. I'm afraid my questions have gone relatively unnoticed in this thread, but I really think they belong here, so I don't want to start a new thread for them.
Not sure how many have read my post, or if anyone has any kind of experience with the situation I've posed.
Thanks,
Tammy

Posted on: Mon, 05/14/2001 - 8:58am
Jenna's picture
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Joined: 07/09/2000 - 09:00

Lam,
Our child was the first PA child in his school. He is airborne sensitive- in fact, he is so sensitive that he has had reactions from being in an adjoining room from a bowl of peanuts. We had his physican write a statement saying that he is airborne sensitive. The school realized that we were not over reacting when they saw his letter. We gave the school examples of some of his reactions so they would understand even better. Our physician's advice was to eat with him in the lunchroom for the first couple weeks to see if he would react. He is at a peanut free table. The school has not banned peanut butter but has taken it off their menu-so the only peanut butter is what is brought from home. He has an aide that watches him at lunch and monitors the table. He has been able to stay in the cafeteria- we never thought he would be able to. I would just tell the school that you need to start with a plan and if modifications are necessary, another meeting will have to be held to discuss changes. (You don't want them to make changes without discussing it with you first or without your involvement.) We had many meetings with the school before the 1st day. The school year has been reaction free- but we are still changing and modifying his 504. We have found it is necessary to be very specific. The biggest thing is to be prepared and have information with you that supports what you are saying. Good luck.

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