School Trip to Zoo Next Month - How Do I Approach It With School?

Posted on: Tue, 05/22/2001 - 1:13am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

pNow, I knew Jesse was going to be going to the zoo next month when I went to a School Council meeting in October of this year. But, of course, at that time, it seemed a long way away./p
pI had already been told by another parent whose child had gone two years ago, that the zoo is full of peanuts and that they actually sell peanuts to the children to feed to the animals./p
pNow, particularly after the death of the young boy in Spokane, I want to start working on this trip NOW. For one thing, it is the first time that Jesse will be going on a school trip without the trusted Mrs. M. who is on maternity leave. He will be with his "new" teacher that I'm not as comfortable with./p
pAt any rate, I discussed it with his Father this morning and asked him if he would like to volunteer to go on the trip. Mrs. M. was one of those teachers that was SO in tune with family dynamics that she knew which parents to ask and which ones not to. She knew that if I was on a field trip with Jesse he wouldn't pay heed to her and probably not to me either. Somehow she just instinctly knew it. I felt okay about not going (although I would sit home and worry all day) because I knew he was in capable hands. Well, this time, I'm not as sure./p
pSo, Jesse's Dad went in when he took Jesse to school this morning and spoke with the new teacher, Miss F. She told him that she would add him to list of parents that had volunteered but they had a list that they normally chose from and she could not guarantee that my DH would be one of the parents or not. Fine./p
pI called the school this morning and asked one of the school secretaries if I e-mailed the principal with an e-mail to Jesse's teacher if she could simply forward it to the teacher with my concerns./p
pI'd like to go over what I wanted to write in the e-mail to the teacher and if anyone could, let me know how you feel about what I'm asking for./p
pI am SO nervous. My friend, who is the school bus driver, and will be for this charter, said that she has been to this zoo before and there are peanuts everywhere. She told me that if my DH wasn't chosen that she would be there regardless. Now, she is very aware, because she is the one who saw Jesse's full anaphylactic reaction two years ago and drove us to emerg./p
pFirst of all, I'll have to go over the protocol of field trips with the teacher because I'm not clear that she knows them. This means that Jesse has his Epi-belt on but she also has ON HER PERSON his second Epi-pen and his asthma puffers. /p
pThen, I would like to ask that ALL children in her "peanut free" classroom be asked NOT to purchase peanuts for the animals. It's going to be bad enough with them walking all around the zoo, crunching on the bloody shells, I really feel that they don't need to have them in their hands too, especially because if they were at school they wouldn't be allowed to (that "peanut free" thing again). Does anyone think that this request is unusual? Also, if I make this request, shouldn't I suggest an alternative that the kids could feed the animals and actually provide it myself? But what would that alternative be? I haven't a clue. I haven't been to a zoo where you bought stuff to feed the animals in 20 years! I would really like to do this because then it allows the children still to be able to participate in feeding the animals, just not feed the animals peanuts./p
pAlso, part of the protocol is that Jesse is supposed to sit beside her on the bus./p
pNow, I know that other Kindergarten classes will be there. Should I attempt to find out if all three classes will be eating separately? If they're not, there's the "peanut free" classroom thing totally out the window./p
pAs I told my DH this morning, this is something that I simply cannot refuse for Jesse to experience. It is a NORMAL kid thing to do, visit the zoo, and even though it isn't the fabulous Toronto Zoo, it is a zoo regardless./p
pIn my e-mail to the teacher, should I insist, due to safety precautions that either my DH or I are added to the list or that if we are denied we would like to be given specific reasons as to why not? This all goes down to Duty of Care and I'm not clear if they will be able to provide this in this particular situation for my son./p
pWhat do you think? Anyone's thoughts would be greatly appreciated, as always./p
pBest wishes! [img][/img]/p

Posted on: Tue, 05/22/2001 - 2:08am
yarnwoman's picture
Joined: 10/09/2000 - 09:00

First why aren't you comfortable with the new teacher? Yes what you plan to have in the email is good but I personally would meet with the teacher in person. Have you tried calling the zoo and asking what they have the students feed the animals, and if there is an alternative to the peanuts? I know at the zoo in san diego they fed the animals pellets and this was only in the petting zoo. also as an ex teacher and a volunteer on most field trips I know when we have gone to the zoo the kids are broken into groups with parent volunteers in charge of each group and possibly the teacher having a group. then each group decides where it wants to go in the zoo. since you mentioned the lunch thing I think you need to find out whether they are all eating together. when Axel's class went everyone met back at a designated time and place for lunch. As I sit here writing this I find myself wondering if the teachers were actually caring or if I was allowed to go on every fieldtrip because they didn't want to have to deal with Axel if a crisis came up. Sorry I got off the subject.ANyway yes send the letter I think your concerns need to be addressed and sending them through the principal is a fantastic idea that I wouldn't of thought of. hope this helps I feel that i kind of rambled.

Posted on: Tue, 05/22/2001 - 2:34am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Christyn, how could you almost apologize for being long winded in a response to me? You're too much! LOL!
I'm not comfortable with Jesse's new teacher I think because it's her first field trip with him. She had to ask me about the protocol for checking lunches/snacks to see if they were "peanut free". She is very young (not that Jesse's other teacher was younger than me considerably either!) and she just doesn't look as though she feels comfortable with anything, not even the children as a whole.
A couple of weeks ago, Jesse lost his tooth at school. My girlfriend, the bus driver, whose daughter is also in Jesse's class, was there when it happened. Well, I had told Jesse that if he lost his tooth at school that he was to take it to the teacher and ask her if she could please put it in a baggy to send home for the Tooth Fairy. Well, apparently when Jesse gave her the tooth, she looked like she didn't want to touch it and very reluctantly put it in a baggie. I understand all of the reasoning behind that, but to actually show your reaction to a young child that is SO excited about losing his tooth, I don't know. No, I think it has a lot to her being young and new and inexperienced.
Oh, and I also just found out last week, from Jesse, that his teacher isn't even in the classroom when he has his lunch at school. Apparently another teacher is with him (although I am not clear if it is a teacher or someone that Jesse thinks is a teacher - I have to check re this too). His other teacher sat beside him at lunch for his first year with her. Then, this year, perhaps feeling more comfortable with her ability to deal with PA, or perhaps it had something to do with sitting on wee kid seats when you're pregnant, she didn't sit beside Jesse while he was eating his lunch. She sat near him though. This new teacher isn't even in the room. Thank-you, that reminds me, another phone call to make!
Sometimes I just feel do diluged with phone calls to make, it's unreal. I have 3 on the list now from this post alone!
You have made some good points though. I am fairly clear that the only thing they offer the children to sell is peanuts but I will call the zoo to clarify. Then, I realized that I actually have to call to see which hospital is closer should an emergency occur.
I know our area fairly well, even though I don't drive, but I'm not clear which of 3 hospitals would be closer to this particular zoo. So, that's two calls I have to make.
Also, the only reason I'm e-mailing through the principal - I told the secretary on the telephone that the principal did NOT have to deal with this e-mail at all, simply give it to the teacher is because I don't have an e-mail address for the teacher.
Thank-you SO much for your thoughts. I'm actually hoping that they will simply include my DH and my heart will be lightened quite a bit. Of course, I still have to write my list of requests down about the feeding of the peanuts, etc.
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 05/22/2001 - 4:24am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Good luck getting all this figured out. For me... my son wouldn't go - period. This may be in light of the Spokane tragedy, but regardless, I look at it this way: Is a trip to the zoo an essential part of my son's curriculum/education? Does his grade depend on it? Will there be any reference to the trip on any test/quiz? If not, he doesn't need to go.
I KNOW somebody will consider this "over the top" - so be it. I take my children to the zoo several times throughout the summer. This type of field trip is not necessary for my son. Sorry if I offend anyone - I'm a little defensive after reading about Nathan (my son's name is Nathanael, which doesn't help).
Good luck, again, Cindy.

Posted on: Tue, 05/22/2001 - 5:03am
torontosue's picture
Joined: 06/08/2001 - 09:00

Cindy, on a recent family trip to Riverdale farm, the animals were all fed pellets given from an ice-cream cone. The staff there all assured me that it was safe for Taran to feed the animals, and I let him. He was fine.
Is going along on the trip an option at all? That way you will be there and know if anything at all is making you or him uncomfortable? If this isn't an option, what about a family visit before the actual field trip to check the place out?

Posted on: Tue, 05/22/2001 - 6:20am
kelly01's picture
Joined: 03/19/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy: Definately call the zoo to find out about the peanuts. I realize that every zoo is different, but we have taken our PA son to the zoo several times. The only areas we avoided were the "indoor" bird sanctuaries (I was too afraid that the birdseed, etc would contain peanuts), and I also avoided the indoor elephant exhibit (they were not feeding them peanuts, but I just could not shake the peanut/elephant connection in my own mind!). All the other exhibits were fine...I called ahead of time and talked to the folks (esp in the petting zoo) and they also only fed the animals corn pellets. I think the trend of letting people feed the animals (except in the petting zoo) is not as popular anymore (at least in my area).
I don't blame you for being nervous, though. Is there anyone in the administration of the school that you have a good relationship with?I would appeal to them in making sure that you or your DH are used as a parent chaperone. You would think they would be happy to know that someone was going to be there that would take responsibility for your son, as this is his first class trip to the zoo. It seems ridiculous to me that they will not accomodate this request.
The only other thing I can think of, is to take Jesse to the zoo with your family before the class trip. (I know this might not be possible), then you can see for yourself if it is safe or not and point out to him also, what areas he should avoid.
Good luck!

Posted on: Tue, 05/22/2001 - 4:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Thank-you everyone for your wonderful responses to this. Lam, I don't think you need to apologize for your feelings re this.
They are definitely valid feelings and I don't believe anyone here would negate them.
I called the zoo. As it turns out, and I did post it in a different thread too, the zoo does NOT sell peanuts during the week during the school year when there are school trips being made there. I was totally taken aback by this. Elmvale is very small, I believe it is probably even smaller than the town I live in (and I thought that was impossible), so I certainly wasn't expecting this. They do sell pellets of feed for horses and that type of animal.
On the week-ends they do sell peanuts but the zoo is cleaned, including the cages, before the school week begins. Then, when the school year ends, they sell peanuts throughout the week also.
I asked about supplying an alternative for the children to feed the animals and this is against policy. Of course, this makes sense because they wouldn't know what people were feeding their animals. Now, I don't feel badly about the peanut part of it at all, as far as peanuts being fed to the animals.
I do have to address the fact that there will be two other Kindergarten classes in attendance, on the same school bus, etc. that are not "peanut free" and would concessions could possibly be made for that day (I'd be willing to pack a lunch for all 40 of the extra kids, seriously!).
I found out which hospital would be the closest in case of emergency.
Then, I had to call the school re another matter and the secretary gave me the principal (even though I hadn't asked to speak with her). She said that she really wants either my DH or I to attend that day.
She told me that she wants "all the bases covered" (does that translate into she wants her a** covered?, sorry)? So, although the teacher was unclear as to whether or not my DH would be picked, he was able to tell the teacher at the end of the school day that it was no longer a request but actually a requirement of the principal.
As it turns out, I may be the one that goes.
I'm a bit nervous as I've never gone on a school trip before. I joyously remember my Mother going on a school trip with me to Center Island in Toronto and Heinz Pickles had given us all little dill pickle pins to wear (strange things I remember, I know [img][/img] ).
I would like Jesse to remember his Mom going with him the same way.
Now, aside from dealing with the other children eating peanut products that will be on our bus, I think I've got all the bases covered here (I didn't mean to repeat that), I think.
Does anyone else have anything else they can think of that I should be looking into or should be concerned about?
Thanks so much to everyone for your response.
I know that I raised this thread early because of what happened to Nathan in Spokane and I truly believe that NONE of us felt quite the same sending our children to school itself this morning.
Again, many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 05/22/2001 - 9:15pm
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Hi again, Cindy!
I'm glad to hear about the peanuts not being used during the week, during the school year. I'm also relieved to hear that you or your husband will be going along. As a matter of fact, I need to add this to my post: If my husband or I could go along, my son would go.
Sorry for the "tone" in my previous post - I'm still very upset over Nathan.
Take care, and have a great day,

Posted on: Wed, 05/23/2001 - 5:37am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

[This message has been edited by Cindy Spowart Cook (edited May 24, 2001).]

Posted on: Wed, 05/23/2001 - 6:08am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Tammy, as I posted to you earlier, I don't think there was anything wrong at all
with what you posted. I thought your feelings were valid and should NOT be
negated by anyone here. I think we are all still reeling from Nathan's death
and it is affecting how we are dealing with our children's schools and
especially upcoming field trips.
I have never gone on a field trip with Jesse before. I'm not clear if I posted
why or not but his previous teacher understood family dynamics well enough to
know that it would not be a good idea for Jesse to have his Mom on the trip with
him (i.e., he wouldn't listen to the teacher or me). But now, I am very excited
about the possibility of going and I do think that I can prove that Jesse is
capable of having a parent with him and still behaving accordingly.
Also, I must say that although he has had a few field trips before, it was
because of his previous teacher and how in control of this allergy that she is,
that I felt comfortable enough with her decision not to have me go.
With the current teacher he has, because of her age, the way she deals with the
children period, and perhaps her lesser understanding of PA, both my DH and I
were not comfortable just allowing Jesse to go without volunteering.
I am actually pleased that the principal made it a requirement, not a request.
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Wed, 05/23/2001 - 8:07am
Kathryn's picture
Joined: 02/17/1999 - 09:00

Cindy when you sit down to prepare next year's emergency plan for Jesse at school make sure you include notice that either you or your husband will accompany Jesse on all school trips. My son's school suggested this and they always offer to pay our costs for going along, although we have never taken them up on that. On any class trip it is the school's expectation that my husband or I will be a parent volunteer and my husband always has a great day with the kids. This might be another example you could use if you do decide to approach the superintendent responsible for the school. Things there still seem to be a bit unusual in terms of how most Ontario schools are dealing with anaphylaxis in 2001! Take care.


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