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Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 12:10am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Here is my best friend's e-mail re her position "may contain" products in her PA/TNA child's classroom. She did give me her permission to post it in this thread but since she wasn't able to post it herself (time constraints), I am going to take out the name of her child. I thought her reasoning for why made sense to me.
Here goes:-
My child will always have a peanut/nut-free room even if he wasn't airborne
sensitive. Breathe in the proteins enough times and presto, airborne
reaction as far as I'm concerned.
I will never allow "may contains" either for the same reasons. Too close
for comfort and too many what ifs...
My child will have a 504 throughout his school years. The purpose of the 504 is
to protect his individual needs so I can write into it whatever I want. If
the school wants to fight part of it they may, but the chances of them
winning are pretty slim. I'm lucky enough to have a very accommodating
school. NOW.
And that's that. Many thanks to her for adding her thoughts to this discussion. I called her last week when I felt like Psycho Mom from He** (re PA [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] )
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 4:57am
erik's picture
Joined: 05/15/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy,
I think that you should continue to push for the peanut free classroom and continue to ban "may contains".
The teacher has been lazy and ignored your requests for no "may contains". If you were to give in now, the teacher will assume that she can continue to act this way in the future as the parents will give in. IN a future year, if another PA child is in her class, once again she would not make any effort as she would assume that eventually the parent will give up. By you not giving up, she will realize her strategy is not working, as the principal must not be pleased to hear that the teacher has been allowing all this unsafe product into the classroom.
Since it appears the teacher has not been checking lunches for "may contain items" as had been requested by you, it appears that you can no longer trust her to be diligent in prodiving a peanut free environment so this is not the time to let down your guard. If the teacher was responsible and took the allergy seriously you could consider allowing "may contain" items, but from what I have heard so far that would be a mistake in this situation.
Since she does not take it seriously, it leaves it to you and the principal to keep it a safe environment.
Anyway, I may not have mentioned it but I am sorry to hear you are having such difficulties these days and I hope that things improve as we approach the holiday season.
[This message has been edited by erik (edited November 26, 2002).]

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 5:56am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

erik, thank-you for your well expressed response [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] It was really appreciated. I think what I'm finding particularly difficult is that I have usually dealt with Jesse's teacher re his PA (except dealing with the principal at the beginning of the school year with the written school plan) and left the principal to deal with what I consider more important things (i.e., running the whole school).
I've always found that Jesse has had excellent teachers that have dealt with his allergy well. For JK/SK, he had a young teacher who was, quite frankly, scared to death to have Jesse in her classroom. Yet, I trusted her implicitly. I didn't even have a written school plan for Jesse and sent him off on school trips with her without ever thinking that he wouldn't be safe. The only field trip I went on in those years was when they went to the zoo and I kinda felt I *should* go.
In Grade 1, in the previous town, he only had the teacher for two months and I'm not clear how she would have handled the allergy for the whole year. However, what she did do, was have the children help to read their ingredient labels which I felt was quite empowering to the children (and also helped their reading skills).
In Grade 1 here, he again had another young teacher, again scared to death of having him in her class, but she dealt with the allergy beautifully. There was a table at the front of the classroom where lunches were immediately put in the morning and checked by an E.A. "May contain" items were not allowed in the classroom.
By this time, we did have a school plan in place for Jesse (thanks to Peanut Trace [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ) and I believe this helped the teacher and the school deal with the allergy as again, Jesse was the only PA child in the school.
I'm a fine one to suggest age-ism, given my own age, but I really feel that the two teachers I dealt with successfully dealt with the allergy (and probably a lot of other things re school and Jesse) well because they were young. What's young? Under 30 certainly.
His current teacher, is, as I say, probably about my age or a little older. She did, in fact, teach the Mother of one of her current students. My birth-sister, upon learning that Jesse had this teacher said "she's absolutely wonderful, it's going to be great, my daughter had her for two years". Her daughter is a very creative child but also tends to find it hard to focus on what she's not interested in. And, her daughter had her 7 years ago for the two years. I think she's changed in the last 7 years and I haven't had the opportunity to speak with my birth-sister about who she considered this "wonderful" teacher.
I think she's used to running a classroom her way and quite frankly, from the list of names she has on the board every day for misbehaviour (my son's included, not to-day [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ), I don't think the way she does things is effective. When I spoke with her at the beginning of the year, she really sounded as though she had been *burdened* with several behavioural problem children that should have passed into Grade 3 but were kept back.
Give a burdened, over-worked teacher, who is also in a political situation right now (the Work-to-Rule thing) and add PA into the mix, and I think you have the same thing as you have with me. Give me all the other stressors I deal with in my life and it may be one little thing about PA that sends me over the edge. Do you know what I mean?
She doesn't want to "get it" and I will only know next year, when I deal with yet another teacher (and decipher her age) if it is an age-related thing or not. But I have to say that the young teachers, scared to death, educated themselves really well, were really adamant on their positions as well as mine about no "may contains" in the classroom and I honestly didn't worry about Jesse's safety while in their care (see Duty of Care).
So, yes, I have to work with the principal and thank heaven she is working well with me. It's just that I would prefer to work with the teacher and let the principal do more important things (like find me volunteers for the breakfast program [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] ). However, I guess you do whatever you have to do to maintain what the school plan has in it.
No, I wouldn't start to allow "may contains" at this point simply because it's quite obvious that they have been allowed all the way along anyway. It has always been understood (or so I thought [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] ) that should any questionable item be brought into the school, I was to be called, and I would check on it.
I don't mind ticking the teacher off by having her have to deal with irrate parents now. However, I am concerned about a serious backlash from parents who have been sending these products into the classroom for THREE MONTHS and can't now. Can you simply tell them that the teacher messed up? I don't think so. I am waiting for repercussions and not clear what's going to happen.
I have to go now and find an on-line dictionary so that my dear son can look up the word "stupid" and find out why you don't call someone's Father that. I am aghast!
Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 2:05pm
KarenH's picture
Joined: 09/21/2002 - 09:00

I'm sorry to hear that you are having so much trouble with your son's school [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]
I can really relate to your teacher troubles. PA or no, we all run into teachers that don't make a good match for our kids. I did find your point about the age thing interesting though. This is my belief...
Younger teachers are less set in their ways and more willing to learn and CHANGE in order to accomodate students or parents. Teachers who have been around for a long time are often very good, experienced teachers, but they are set in their ways, and are unwilling to change. Some even have no more patience left and are just killing time before they retire. Many years experience does not neccessarily make a good teacher. I'm 31-and been an EA for 10 years...and if I get to that point I hope I have enough sense to find a different profession.

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 2:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Karen H., thank-you for your response. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] My daughter has an older teacher as well for SK (she would be my age I guess, I'm not good at ages, but around the same age as Jesse's teacher). For her, I really think she fits into the good, experienced, teacher category you outlined. And for Jesse's, I really feel she does fit into the category of the no patience left, had enough of this, want to retire category. Seriously.
You said everything so well. I don't think I would be having the same difficulties having Jesse's PA *accommodated* (I didn't really use that word, just can't remember the correct one right now at this time of night) with Ember's teacher, who, as I say, would be around the same age as Jesse's.
I also think you're right on about the younger teachers. I have found and this might only be from the three experiences that I have had, that Jesse's two younger teachers dealt better with both his PA and his misbehaviour. His teacher last year was extremely creative (in my mind) in finding ways to help him focus on his work, etc. whereas his teacher this year can only think to remove his desk from the grouping of students.
Oh well. I should go and get to bed (even though everyone knows I took to my bed for some portion of to-day anyway [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] ) and get up to face breakfast program and being the Food Nazi again tomorrow morning with the added stuff of all of Jesse's misbehaviour to-day.
[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] Just grand.
Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 9:26pm
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Glad to hear we're OK! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 11/26/2002 - 11:57pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Lam, of course we're okay. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] As erik said, I do appreciate different opinions about things. I can remember different threads that I've started where I've been really upset say about something that happened and members here have given me a totally different perspective on the situation and made me feel better.
I do appreciate what you said about the "may contains" and I believe I would take it into consideration if it didn't go against my two-fold stance outlined above.
Well, I did Food Nazi duty again this morning and came home feeling crappy again. To-day, there was a very angry letter from another parent about her child having to eat questionable cookies in the office yesterday with the ingredient label from the package.
It was an item that I actually hadn't made the call on, the E.A. had. The E.A. is actually a lot more strict about things that we're unsure about.
Again, to-day, we're pulling out the safe unsafe products so again to-day quite obvious that the foods have never been checked. And I'm now running into an assortment of little food items that I've never even seen before, so can't identify quickly as safe or not - for example, this morning a child had some bread sticks. I don't know what kind, I don't know anything about bread sticks. The E.A. pulled them.
The teacher that had called Loblaw's came up and spoke with me and said that she had received a different answer from Loblaw's then I did. I told her my theory about 10 different people calling and all getting different answers. I then explained that you have to call Loblaw's with the actual product UPC code. She said she's not in a position to do that. I told her that the snacks she has are okay, just not okay for the Grade 2 class.
I think, for the first time to-day, I caught a glimpse of the Grade 3 teacher. A young-ish man (30-ish?), seems enthusiastic and friendly. Here's hoping that's who Jesse gets next year if we're able to stay at this school (I'm extremely angry about that as well [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] ) this whole possible moving thing again.
I know that there is going to be some backlash from the parents, as evidenced this morning in the letter from the angry parent.
I think it's the same parent that threatened to call the school board over the peanut free classroom so she must be in quite a tizzy. I feel badly for her. I really do. She told the teacher in the letter that if there were any questions about her child's food, that they are to contact her.
Actually, we've asked for it to be the other way around. If you have any questions about food that you're sending in, call me. However.
I have to go. Thanks for listening again to-day. I did tell the E.A. that I would only do this for the next two days, that she had a good grasp on it and I couldn't deal with it very well. I can't.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Wed, 11/27/2002 - 12:25am
mae's picture
Joined: 07/12/2002 - 09:00

Cindy - a quick question. I've been following this thread - and I may have missed it - but I'm wondering how you handle "home baked goods" - ie. when a child brings a homemade muffin in?
A friend in BC who has a PA daughter was telling me that the entire school went Peanut-free this past September - and that at first they said "No Home-baking" because of the possibility of cross contamination. After a huge uproar from parents - they now allow home-made items in - but only when accompanied by a note stating that the item is nut-free.
Is home-baking allowed in Jesse's classroom -
how do you handle this?

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 1:23am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

So, yesterday I don't post about my morning Food Nazi experience because why bother? It's the same as every morning this week. I feel terrible about it and I'm also upset because it's obvious it has never been done properly for the last three months. And there is backlash already.
Two women, who *normally* speak with me after school are now not saying anything other than "hi". Why? Because both of their children have had unsafe products sent home all this week. Just great.
I don't know many people in this town/city at all. Then, we move, and I get to know a few Moms on a regular basis and I know, what's the big whoop, you get to talk to them for a couple of minutes each day, but somehow it makes you feel better that you actually have someone to talk to at the school, especially when you see all of the other *comfortable* people in their cliques that you'll never be in (always the outsider [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] )
Then, I get a call from the principal last night. The E.A. assigned to the checking of the food has been removed from this assignment because it was *disrupting* the class - other students who needed help with Jolly Phonics work were not getting it because the E.A. was out checking food with me in the hall each morning.
I explained to the principal that it is quite clear that the food has never been checked properly (as per Jesse's school plan) and that I feared a backlash. She said that "tempers are flying at this time of year" so I'm not clear what she meant. I know people are upset with their children's report cards (I'm one of them) and other things. I heard a Mom of kids in Ember's and Jesse's class the other day saying she's pulling her kids out of the school because it's too f-ed up.
That left Ember all day upset because the one child is her best friend. I told her not to worry about it, that the child's Mom was just upset and even if they did pull out, it probably wouldn't be 'til year-end and now with our rental house for sale who knows if we'll even be here?
Anyway. So, the E.A. gets pulled. However, the principal has called to let me know this but already has a solution, so that's great.
Another parent, who I have spoken with this week really for the first time, has volunteered to take on the task of checking the food.
This morning, I helped the other parent and the E.A. so that the other parent can familiarize herself with what food is not okay.
She is extremely okay about this and I'm quite thankful. I don't want to have to be the parent rifling through lunches. This morning, we got some comment from an older student (say Grade 7 or 8), a girl, saying something about "oh, you're checking for peanuts". I just feel terrible. Her comment wasn't a simple one, the tone was more complex and I can't explain it.
Check the food, wheel the food trolley back in. I also explained to the principal that their way of doing this right now is too time consuming and crazy (didn't use that word).
Explained that there should be a thing where the kids come in, put their lunch boxes on the trolley and then go about getting ready for their day.
The way it has been this week, they all finally get to their seats, have their lunch boxes with them, and the E.A. has been taking the lunch boxes from each desk (27 students) and putting them on the trolley. I explained to the principal that the other method worked well for 3 years and it *should* work in this classroom also - kids walk in the door, put their lunch boxes on the trolley, and get ready for their day. To me, it sounds a lot simpler and less mad than the method only being used since the beginning of this week anyway. So, she was going to look into that for me. It wasn't what was done this morning.
The E.A. mentioned this morning that perhaps a reminder note should be sent home with the students who had brought unsafe snacks in. Well, DUH. That is what is *supposed* to be done each time a child brings an unsafe snack in. I told her that I didn't think the parents were slipping up this week alone, I think they had never been told from the beginning that these products were unsafe. Otherwise, I wouldn't have at least 10, if not more children, with unsafe items in their lunches every day this week.
I did tell the E.A. that I had gotten groceries in to-day for the breakfast program and that she could sub unsafe snacks with my okay snacks.
This is all fine and dandy because yes, the breakfast program is also funded as a snack program, but why should my breakfast program have to lose all of it's yoghurt to-day (as it did Monday) because snacks had to be replaced in the Grade 2 class that shouldn't have had to be replaced?
I know parents pretty well I think. I think most of them are accommodating if you present the classroom in the right light to them and make it easy for them. To come in three months later and suddenly say, no this is not okay, well, it's not going to sit well with anyone.
And who's getting caught in the backlash? Me, already, I know. And Jesse had birthday party invitations go home this week and the two Moms that aren't speaking with me now, well, their two kids haven't responded yet.
Will they not go now? Will it be taken out on Jesse as well?
How can I express my anger towards the teacher for putting us (Jesse and I) in this position? Deluge her with paperwork, like his school plan and the Duty of Care article?
I really don't know. I already tore a strip off her re his report card and the mark he got on his reading.
Now, anyone reading this thinks I'm an absolute bi*ch. I'm not. I am so meek and quiet it's unreal. I'm 43 years old and would still be considered "shy". Do I feel like fighting with the teacher? No. I know that one other newer member had suggested that perhaps I do like to fight with teachers and don't treat them with respect when I'm speaking with them. Not the case. I have never had to fight with a teacher before to ensure Jesse's relative safety at school. Yes, I have had to fight with a principal and you know what? She finally got it and started running a "reduce the risk" school just in time as 4 or 5 more PA students entered her school. So the fight with that particular principal and all of the head banging was worth it.
This principal, I got the impression that it may be difficult to work with her, but it's not. She's the same age as me and has a child in Grade 6. She has to do the peanut free thing for another school where her children are.
This is the first year that I have had a teacher like this and it's very upsetting and stressful to me. I don't like it. I don't like fighting. I don't like being angry.
Thanks for listening and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Thu, 11/28/2002 - 1:35am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

mae, sorry, I forgot in my rant (probably just as well [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) to answer your question about home-baked goods.
There are seen very rarely in the lunches here apparently but here's my position on them and it must seem totally off the wall because I don't allow "may contain" items in the classroom. Items labeled "may contain" actually have a 1 in 5 chance of containing a peanut product, so to me, that's like playing Russian Roulette (note, I said, to me, and I recognize this as a comfort zone thing).
As the food monitor for the school, I am supposed to be called before any homebaked goods are sent into the classroom. However, am I? No. I have been called once in 4 years.
When there was a special party at Jesse's previous schools, I would go in before and okay or not okay any homebaked goods (we actually got relatively few homebaked goods for special parties even).
Strangely enough, I don't worry about a product that may have been baked on a cookie sheet at someone's home that they had previous made pb cookies on. If Jesse was eating it, definitely. If it was offered up for the class party, yes.
To-day, I guess because it's getting close to Christmas, I came across two homebaked goods.
I just examined them for obvious peanuts or tree nuts and then let them go. Yes, Jesse has had a cross contamination reaction (hive only) to a Duncan Hines cupcake that I made and from a box that was labeled properly apparently.
I believe what *should* be done, is that you not have homebaked items in the classroom either, unless the parent has pre-checked them with you, especially if you have a written school plan whereby you're the food monitor for the school. All of us PA parents are more than welcoming of phone calls from other parents and yet I've never gotten them.
But again, I've never seen a lot of homebaked goods coming in either.
I wouldn't *normally* allow them into the classroom. That would be my take on it, unless I had pre-approved the item to come into the class.
Why am I allowing them now? Because I'm beside myself and not thinking clearly.
If it was for a Christmas party though, I would be quite a bit more hesitant and strict. Anything I have felt uncomfortable with I have just always said that Jesse couldn't have any of it. I would actually prefer he didn't eat anyone else's home baking and I don't think he ever has (except my Mom's).
Did any of that make sense? Please let me know if I wasn't clear because I just have to go and lie down.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]


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