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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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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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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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

Posted on: Tue, 07/13/2004 - 3:08am
momtomitchell's picture
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Joined: 04/20/2004 - 09:00

argh, I seemed to have lost my first message so here it is again:
I think it is an excellent written letter and it shows you took the time to understand the "other" side.
If you do choose to send peanut butter or peanut containing food items for your child, please be aware we will be asking them to assist in cleaning their eating area and to thoroughly wash their hands and face after snack and lunch. If needed, we may also request that they eat in a specific section of the classroom in order to minimize the risk of contamination.
I would take this part out. You will always get that one parent who will want to challenge your request and I think this statement "may" give them permission to do that. Don't give them an option.
You had some great ideas for other options for lunches and snacks, but one thing that got my attention was the egg snack. My ds is EA and if I were that one parent I "may" take offense that my child's egg allergy was not being addressed in the same way as a PA. Of course, I, being a mother to a PA completely understands, however, you'll always get that one parent......
just food for thought (no pun intended)
It was a great letter, I'm so glad that you were able to write it!!
[This message has been edited by momtomitchell (edited July 13, 2004).]

Posted on: Tue, 07/13/2004 - 4:17am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

When a standard school board letter has been used requesting a "peanut free" classroom of my son's classmates, there has always been a portion at the bottom asking parents to sign saying that yes, they have read the letter, just as JSaastad posted. Not that they will comply with what they have read, but they did, in fact, read the letter.
Not clear what follow-up was done for parents that didn't return that portion of the letter.
I had to sign one this year for the first time for my daughter's class because there was a PA child in her class.
Being the PA parent all the other years with my son, I didn't have to sign the letter (obviously [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] )
However, last year, we did do a personalized letter and I think the school board letter portion was just kinda included. I really liked putting a face with a name with the allergy and thought it *might* be helpful.
This past year, I wasn't allowed to do that. The principal stuck with the school board district letter which does have a glaring error in it about coconut not being allowed in a "peanut free" classroom. However, who was I to argue? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img]
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 07/13/2004 - 4:22am
MommaBear's picture
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Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by synthia:
[b]
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 whatWE the (1st school) and the parents agreed on (in writing),Later the 1st school came back and said NO we can not ask for the parents to sign!!!!
hmmmmmmm Does that constitute voliating her 504???
[/b]
Are 504's "reworkable" items? You know, from either party?
if no agreement comes to fruition, does that necessarily mean arbitration?
Anyone?

Posted on: Tue, 07/13/2004 - 4:55am
Nutternomore's picture
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MB,
A 504 plan is a living document. 504 procedure guide from your school or district commonly refers to the need to update it on a periodic basis (often annually). This update is managed by the 504 Team (defined by the school, but parents are included on the Team).
A well crafted 504 plan usually includes accommodations that deal with a review of accommodations should the child experience reactions. The intent should be to force review of the plan and re-ask the question "does this plan work"? Sometimes an event may expose a shortcoming of the plan that require mitigation; in that case, the plan can be amended by the team without having to wait until the end of the school year.
If the Team is unable to agree, then you are likely headed down the path to a due process hearing. Rights to due process are usually articulated in the school 504 procedures guide.
BTW, our accommodation language on this subject reads as follows:
- Parents will review policies/procedures with school staff, D

Posted on: Tue, 07/13/2004 - 7:40am
synthia's picture
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if no agreement comes to fruition, does that necessarily mean arbitration?
[b]Not In ALL cases![/b]
Are 504's "reworkable" items? You know, from either party?
[b]Yes IMPHO![/b]
Also let me correct myself from the previous post--This is what I said,,hmmmmmmm Does that constitute voliating her 504???
It is writtan in dd IEP meeting she did at that time have a 504.
Hummmmm I still think there was a violation????
Munchkin's Mom,Sorry If I went off.Keep us posted.
Love this site
Synthia

Posted on: Thu, 07/15/2004 - 11:34pm
momtomitchell's picture
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Munchin's Mom,
How did you final letter come out? I would love to see it!
[This message has been edited by momtomitchell (edited July 16, 2004).]

Posted on: Fri, 07/16/2004 - 1:55am
MommaBear's picture
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Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by synthia:
[b]Also let me correct myself from the previous post--This is what I said,,hmmmmmmm Does that constitute voliating her 504???
It is writtan in dd IEP meeting she did at that time have a 504.
Hummmmm I still think there was a violation????
[/b]
or is a trial and error? I mean, I don't even know if they are right or not. Did you check out the Mass. Document's example? Gotta ask myself if a recommendation/example/suggestion such as I found there is necessarily a "go" in all situations. Would really like to know, since I had asked for something similiar once and was told "no can do" as well. Or something to that effect.
Wondering if i should give it a second shot this fall.
Exactly what would the signature indicate in the situation you describe?
Was it stated as a "requirement" or a "request"? To sign, I mean?

Posted on: Fri, 07/16/2004 - 4:02am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Momma Bear, here, it was REQUIRED that I sign the letter advising me that my daughter's classroom was "peanut free". However, as I believe I posted above, I'm not clear what follow-up the school did for parents that did not sign and return the form. I happened to be in the school the day I was given the form so I just signed it on the spot (despite that glaring error re coconut) and handed it in.
But then [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/confused.gif[/img] if I'm not sure how it was followed-up on, how do I know it was a requirement and not a request. I just know I had to sign the bloody thing.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Fri, 07/16/2004 - 12:32pm
synthia's picture
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"Exactly what would the signature indicate in the situation you describe?"
All parents in that class received information.
"Was it stated as a "requirement" or a "request"? To sign, I mean?"
Had to look at my notes--As I recall the conversation{meeting) it was the principal who stated that she wanted a letter to go out and a parent signature to come back as recepit that they (the parent-s)received it!
Now looking at the notes of the meeting it says "A letter will be sent out to parents the first week back(because it was holiday break)from break.The letter [b]should[/b] be signed and returned as proof of [b]receipt by parent.[/b]"
Did you check out the Mass. Document's example?
Yes I have, pg.45
Love this site
Synthia
[This message has been edited by synthia (edited July 16, 2004).]

Posted on: Sat, 07/17/2004 - 2:28am
MommaBear's picture
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Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by synthia:
[b]"Exactly what would the signature indicate in the situation you describe?"
All parents in that class received information.
"Was it stated as a "requirement" or a "request"? To sign, I mean?"
Had to look at my notes--As I recall the conversation{meeting) it was the principal who stated that she wanted a letter to go out and a parent signature to come back as recepit that they (the parent-s)received it!
Now looking at the notes of the meeting it says "A letter will be sent out to parents the first week back(because it was holiday break)from break.The letter [b]should[/b] be signed and returned as proof of [b]receipt by parent.[/b]"
Did you check out the Mass. Document's example?
Yes I have, pg.45
[/b]
k, a [b]"receipt"[/b].
Offhand and Off the Top of My Head, and not as advice in any manner or form, don't quite know if the same could be achieved anyway......... and just something *I* personally find similiar, but not quite the same and felt might be interesting:
Sometime in the past, I worked a particular area of the hospital where I often prepared discharge papers for inpatients. I gave discharge instructions (some protocol, some policy, some procedure, doctor's orders, etc.........) and was required to document the same.
Some things I/others did:
Sometimes preparation/teaching pre-hospital stay. Many times regarding patient/family expectations. You know, preparing them.
Coordination of care with various services both pre-hospital and during admission/stay.
Teaching along the way as indicated/necessary/and possibly [b]pre-emptively[/b]. Often and sometimes re: [b]Behavior Modification[/b]
Encouragement. Encouragement. Encouragement.
Compassion. Compassion. Compassion.
Understanding. Understanding. Understanding.
(note, not the same as [i] codependence[/i]. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] )
Noted any deviation from THE PLAN and notified appropriate team members.
kept repeating this and other items (as this is just off the top of my head) until homeostasis achieved/success indicated/or even [i]goal met[/i]/etc.... as goals may vary.
Gave written instructions on specific forms provided and adopted by the institution.
Gave pre-prepared instructions on specific forms provided and adopted by the institution. I mean, quite a few things have [i]standardized[/i] methods as well as [i]individualized[/i]
Asked the patient and family or other representative (if allowed to be present ---confidentiality) if they understood the instructions/had further questions.)
Verified understanding possibly through examination of person's ability to verbablize/demonstrate understanding of the same.
[b]Obtained necessary signatures from those receiving documents.[/b] I mean, I was not allowed to have them sign, even if only for receipt of the same. I was required to make various interventions that [i]prepared them for not only for receipt, but understanding and implementation[/i]. Among other things. [b]Prior to that receipt and beyond.[/b]
Documented this.
Arranged any followup post discharge/monitoring.[b]Sometimes to involve further instruction/teaching/reinforcement/support/etc...[/b]
Documented. Documented. Documented.
editing to add: [b]"Obtained necessary signatures from those receiving documents".[/b]
editing again to add: .[b]"Sometimes to involve further instruction/teaching/reinforcement/support/etc..."[/b]
Disclaimer: I am not offering advice in any manner or form. Just reminiscing.
[This message has been edited by MommaBear (edited July 17, 2004).]
[This message has been edited by MommaBear (edited July 17, 2004).]
[This message has been edited by MommaBear (edited July 17, 2004).]

Posted on: Sat, 07/17/2004 - 2:37am
MommaBear's picture
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just noting I edited the post again. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/tongue.gif[/img] [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]

Posted on: Sat, 07/17/2004 - 2:54am
synthia's picture
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hummmm interesting is'nt it?
Love this site
Synthia

Posted on: Sat, 07/17/2004 - 7:42am
MommaBear's picture
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Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

I mean, getting the signature in the instance I described [i]was not enough[/i]. The signature meant more than just "receiving" something. The signature indicated "understanding".
And there was much to do to achieve that. I couldn't go on their word alone.
I mean, [i]a life depended on it[/i].

Posted on: Sat, 07/17/2004 - 7:45am
MommaBear's picture
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Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by MommaBear:
[b] The signature indicated "understanding".
[/b]
it also indicated [i]the ability[/i] to do what was instructed. And whatever "ability" entails.
Otherwise, there was further intervention needed.

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Burlap bags are often used to store and ship coffee beans, potatoes, rice, seeds, nuts, and peanuts. They can be one of the disguised...

People with pollen allergies need to stay away from some foods. If you have allergic rhinitis in the spring or fall, you may not realize that you...

Of course, everyone knows that if you have a peanut allergy that you should avoid peanuts, peanut butter, peanut butter cookies and foods that...

Eating at a nut-free lunch table in school is a safety precaution that causes some students to feel isolated from their peers. Unfortunately,...