what PA protection would you be satisfied with at school?

Posted on: Sat, 01/25/2003 - 4:37am
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

as i replied to another post this morning it dawned on me that many of us may want different levels of protection for our PA kids while they are at school. individually speaking, what would you be comfortable with? also, if you are in a situation that you are already happy with, please describe it. i am curious to know if others expect more or less than i do or if we are all on the same page, so to speak. thanks.. joey

i'll go first....

Posted on: Sat, 01/25/2003 - 5:00am
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

in our current school, there is no policy in place. we are basically just trying to keep a safe environment and this is what the school has agreed to do:
cafeteria: the cafeteria director has agreed to eliminate all peanut containing items from the menu. (i think this pertains to all tree-nuts too. we are only PA). they had only one or two items that were ever peanut or tree-nut containing anyhow so this was easy. on one occassion this year there was one slip up - an m & m covered cookie which was used on a holiday lunch tray. (my daughter was aware that m&m's are not safe or her and asked for a different tray with no cookie on it) unfortunately, our cafeteria chooses to continue preparing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for children whose parents are behind on payment. they have agreed to prepare these in an area away from the other foods and to keep the untensils separate from those used for other food preparation or for childrens' use. the staff has agreed to keep the trays "as safe as possible" so that my child will eat off the lunchtray on a daily basis and always away from those kids who carry lunchboxes to school. they are very unsafe as most of them contain peanut butter sandwiches. she also does not eat near the school's pb&j sandwiches (those kids eat with the lunchbox carriers). i take issue with much of this because no table cleaning occurs between different lunch periods (meaning my child is very likely eating off a peanut butter smeared table top often) and because there is really no way of telling if the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches prepared in the cafeteria aren't contaminating the rest of the cafeteria. who knows if they really prepare them in a separate area and who knows if the utensils are cleaned separately? i would bet money all the utensils are still thrown into the dishwasher altogether. as i've mentioned before, my schoolage PA daughter is very sensitive and has reacted before without ingesting peanut.
classroom: my daughter has her own snack every day (even if the snack served that day is safe). she has a box near the teacher's desk that contains her snacks for the week. if the class' snack is a may contain (which it usually is), my daughter is allowed to stay in the classroom. if the snack is a definite peanut-containing item (like peanut butter oreos, for example) my daughter is sent out into the hall and may choose a friend to go with her. on one occasion, no one wanted to go with her because the class snack was too appealing and no one wanted to give it up. in general, kids are arguing over who gets to be chosen. either way, it excludes her and i hate it. (the teacher made a comment about sending a note home to parents about not sending in peanut containing snacks on their child's snack day but she never did it). no handwashing or desk clean up is done during the school day; certainly not enforced anyway. this poses a big problem to me; especially when the snack is messy.
here is what i'd be happy with:
i would like the school to eliminate obvious peanut containing snacks, foods and craft items (anything with the word peanut anywhere in its list of ingredients). this would include making it a rule that peanut containing items not be sent to school in lunchboxes, parties contributions, and in snacks brought into the school from home. i would like the cafeteria to adhere to a peanut/nut free enviroment. period. i would also like the lunchtrays to be free of may-contain items and ingredients. i personally am okay with my child being around "may contain" items in the classroom as long as my child doesn't consume them or handle them. (if i find a reason to believe that my child is at risk from them, i may change my opinion there as well). i think that is what i'm comfortable with. i just wish the school system would commit themselves to being more proactive about eliminating the really big risks from the schoolday. joey

Posted on: Sat, 01/25/2003 - 9:22am
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

since i'm the only one on here...haha...i'll add something else...
i thought about this a lot today and thought i could simplify my answer a lot.
kitchen: no peanuts, peanut products or
may contains
lunch trays: same
lunch boxes: no peanuts or peanut
products (may contains allowed)
classroom: peanut-free, may-contains allowed
parties: peanut-free, may-contains allowed
my child always eats her own snack from home and i attend all her classroom parties and bring her own foods so the may-contains are never consumed by her.

Posted on: Sat, 01/25/2003 - 11:03am
cynde's picture
Joined: 12/10/2002 - 09:00

We have no written policy in place, but the school is peanut free. May contains are Ok as long as my son doesn't eat them. There is no cafeteria, all lunches brought in. If students accidentally bring PB they have to eat in the office and are supervised with cleanup after. This has not happened very often, I don't think students like eating in the office away from their friends.
The reason we did not push for the may contain ban, was that we knew their would be fallout just from the peanut free idea. We felt if families were asked to not send "may contain" their could be a stronger opposition and possibly lots of testing. We feel that the risk of our son having a reaction is almost nonexistent from someone else eating a "may contain". That of course is just our opinion and comfort zone. How's that for a disclaimer?

Posted on: Sat, 01/25/2003 - 1:54pm
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

cynde: i wish my child attended a school like yours attend. sounds like a much better situation than what we have here. i like it that the kids who choose to bring in the peanut butter or other peanut containing foods in your school are the ones required to eat elsewhere. that's certainly a switch from how it's done here. : ) i too suspect that asking for all may-contains to be banned might cause (certain) people to be more resistant to efforts to keep the school peanut-free at all. joey

Posted on: Sun, 01/26/2003 - 12:22am
cynde's picture
Joined: 12/10/2002 - 09:00

I think it's a perfect situation for us. As I have said in other posts some of the parents were quite resistant (obnoxious a**holes) at first. But with the students being separated to eat PB, I think the kids have put pressure on their parents not to send it. Kids are the best way to get through to the parents. Don't I sound manipulative, but I learned it from our principal. The eating in the office thing was her idea.

Posted on: Sun, 01/26/2003 - 7:10am
becca's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I *thought* I would try asking for a peanut free table, and washing and education, but now we are actually in preschool.
Our school decided to go "peanut/treenut free", but there are glitches. They use a lot of food for crafts, and not all are sourced out for trace or may contain status. Also, our snack are provided by the school, and I was coerced into this by the teacher, who wants all to have the same options, saying it would be only off my safe list. Well, that is not always the case, and she also pressures me to allow new things and I spend countless hours searching out info for new things for projects and parties. This would work better if she communicated better with me. Supposedly she does always give my dd a "safe" snack from my list, but popcorn has entered in(they mske it in a dedicated air popper and only butter or salt it) and one mistake was made with animal crackers I do not allow(lable is clean, but company reports may contain when I called). Just safer to always send from home. Period!
My ideal(at preschool age through at least 1st grade):
-Peanut free eating areas(class and cafeteria), may contains allowed, but I provide all lunches and snacks and party food for my own child.
-All or most crafts food-free, as well as peanut free!
Next year, I plan to just tell the next teacher all of my dd's snacks and food will be sent from home, then she can choose room snacks that are peanut/tree nut free, but not have to worry about my list and calling. If the label checks out fine with me that it is in the class, as long as my child still eats her own. becca
[This message has been edited by becca (edited January 26, 2003).]

Posted on: Sun, 01/26/2003 - 9:32am
cathlina's picture
Joined: 06/29/2001 - 09:00

It really seems the school are handing out fatty, sugary (and peanut containing) snacks.
The latest statistic is that 31% of the American public is overweight or obese. Plus there is a tremendous growth in diabetes.
When I was going to school in ancient times (50's and 60"s), we weren't fed all this junk and we survived.
Have any of you tried approaching this from an overall health standpoint for all the children?
When the students reach middle school and high school, they will not be allowed to have snacks in the classroom.

Posted on: Sun, 01/26/2003 - 1:45pm
becca's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Cathlina, I bluntly asked my director of the preschool if any other parents had voiced concerns regarding the sweets in the classroom, because it was of concern to me, allergies aside. Also, it takes me tons of time to source out safe things to make all these parties and projects work. She said, no, no other parents had voiced concerns! She was being honest and respected my POV. But that is why so many kids are obese, it is not just at school where they get this stuff. becca

Posted on: Mon, 01/27/2003 - 3:19am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

joeybeth, this is a really difficult question for me to answer, especially because I've had such a hard year with Jesse's school and then he had an anaphylactic reaction at school (this is his fourth year in school). I often wonder if I expect too much from the school system and I do post about it here and get answers from other members that do make me question my position (this is positive) and my comfort zone.
I would have taken the "may contain" clause out of my son's written school plan except then he had the anaphylactic reaction at school coming from the breakfast program that I run.
I basically expect what my son has the *right* to in our province. A peanut free classroom and the ability to partake in all school activities, both before, during, and after school.
With the peanut free classroom, as I say, I would have been willing to let the "may contain" clause go (although we had no problems with it whatsoever for the previous three years) had Jesse not had the anaphylactic reaction.
I feel Jesse navigates enough through the non-peanut-free school to put himself at risk - to science class, gym, the library, computer room, guidance, the breakfast club and karate. That's a lot of moving around, and in my opinion, in a school that isn't peanut free, a lot of risk.
However, I have always accepted that and accepted what are solely my son's rights. The right to a "peanut free" classroom.
I'm not clear if I could send him to school knowing that he would be sitting beside another child eating pb.
At times, I do question whether I'm Psycho Mom from He** with the requirements I have of his school, but his anaphylactic reaction last month and how the school dealt with it, really reinforced for me, that I'm doing the right thing for Jesse and I.
The last town we were in, we started out with a peanut free classroom and many a battle with the principal. By the time we left the town, we had a *reduce the risk* school and a lot more PA children. It was well worth the struggles I went through to get it that far.
I would love a peanut free school, peanut aware school, reduce the risk school, anything that was broader than what we have now. But I do have to say that I am quite happy and always have been with his simple right to a peanut free classroom.
Did I even answer your question? It's amazing how a child can be sick home from school and yet fight with his sibling and the other one is just standing here screaming in my ear.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Mon, 01/27/2003 - 4:16am
Laureen's picture
Joined: 01/26/2003 - 09:00

I am dealing with this issue at a school meeting tonight. We started out with a PF classroom, then a PF wing and neither of these has offered my ds enough protection. The teachers and principal want to make the school PF now but there are a group of parents that strongly disagree. They say we are violating their rights.
We have tried to make the other policies work but it got to the point where my ds was having reactions (some mild some not so mild) up to 3 times a week. We were just waiting for the major reaction to happen. The pricipal was also concerned about the distance we are from the hospital (about 30 minutes).
I know that this is a lot to ask of other parents but I'm sending her to school each day wondering if this will be the day I get the dreaded phone call. I hope I can play upon their compassion as loving and caring parents. If this doesn't work out the only other option may be home schooling. The risk is just not worth it.

Posted on: Mon, 01/27/2003 - 5:38am
cathlina's picture
Joined: 06/29/2001 - 09:00

There was just a news story here about the high fat content of school lunches. At some point, there needs to be federal or state regulations on what kids can be fed at school.
My kids had a carton of milk in kindergarten and 1st grade without all this junk (with and without peanuts).

Posted on: Mon, 01/27/2003 - 6:08am
California Mom's picture
Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

This is a great topic, Joeybeth. This year my daughter is in second grade, and we are requiring less than ever. My requirements are as follows:
All shared classroom snacks and party treats must be pn/tn free.
No pn/tn products allowed in classroom for art, science, or any other activities.
No exclusion of my daughter allowed due to her allegies.
That's all that comes to mind right now; I wonder if I'm leaving something out.
This year we have no restrictions on what children may bring for their own lunches or snacks. Leah may sit wherever she chooses. (This was tough for me - but Leah has been totally fine, thank goodness.) We decided to start out the year this way and tighten up if need be. Leah is in a new school and we were concerned about her making new friends; we didn't want her pa to set her apart and make it harder.
In kindergarten we had a totally peanut and nut free environment. First grade she sat at a peanut free table. If I think of anything else I'll add it. We've been so fortunate that Leah does not appear to be as sensitive to contact with peanuts as are some other children. She has been reaction free for over three years and our comfort zone (as you can tell) is much less strict than many. I would be handling this very differently if she had a different reaction history. Miriam

Posted on: Mon, 01/27/2003 - 6:39am
arachide's picture
Joined: 08/16/2000 - 09:00

Hi joeybeth,
You may be interested in reading my thread "Bake Sale" (link below). I'm in the process of trying to initiate some kind of policy implementation.
Unfortunately, my school principal is very apathetic and I've had to deal with the school board directly instead.

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