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buckeye buckeye is offline
 
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Peanut allergies
Old 08-29-2006, 03:41 PM
 
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I had my walk-through to meet students and parents today. Basically, to make a long story short, I have two students with deadly peanut allergies. I guess the teachers in the past have done away with snack, birthday treats, and any treat (other than fruit) at holiday parties.
Have any of you dealt with this? I have had students with nut allergies, but each child brought their own snack and we were careful particularly if we were unsure. I am not sure how the other 23 sets of parents are going to handle this. The mother was shocked and fairly rude when I said that I have always done snack before and that I wasn't sure how I was going to handle it. I asked her for a list of things her child could eat.
Any advice would helpful.


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Old 08-29-2006, 03:50 PM
 
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Still do snack, but with the things from the list that the mother provides with items the child can eat. Instead of students bringing their own snack, have each child rotate a week that their parents provide snack, providing the list of approved foods for them to choose from.

My mother is a nurse practioner in an allergy and asthma office and peanute allergies are very serious and deadly. There have been several young patients who have died from exposure.

I had a friend who teaches first grade - two years ago she had a student with a peanut allergy. My friend provided trail mix to all students except for the one with the allergy while they were on a nature walk. My friend thought her student would be fine, but she had a reaction from just being near the trail mix. The student's mother was very upset and my friend almost lost her job over it.

Take it seriously, but there are ways you can continue doing the same routines in your classroom while being save.
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I don't think..
Old 08-29-2006, 04:11 PM
 
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I would have students bring in snacks for each other since the allergies are severe. If they don't clean a cutting board that has touched peanuts that could be enough to set off an allergy (has happened to my sis.) If you want/must do snack, each child needs to bring their own and make sure you make all parents aware that NO food with peanuts in it may be brought into the classroom! Send home an approved list of foods that MAY be brought for snack.

I teach first grade and we are NOT doing snack this year.

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Old 08-29-2006, 05:09 PM
 
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Definitely let all of the parents know that anything with peanuts is not allowed in your room. Also, check with the parents of the allergic children to see if they have an epi-pen to stop an allergic reaction should one occur. I wouldn't allow anyone to provide food for anyone else in the classroom, since you never know what something may have been exposed to. Also, be careful wary of students who trade food at lunch.
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Can be a serious allergy
Old 08-29-2006, 05:12 PM
 
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I would check with both parents again - just ask them basic questions....

1) Is your child only allergic if they ingest peanuts
2) Does the smell of peanuts trigger an attack
3) If a child brings in an item that doesn't contain peanuts but may have had a spoon or counter top that had trace amounts would that trigger an attack.


Then plan your snack time accordingly.

If these two children ride the bus and go outside for recess then chances are the third question I raised would not be a concern as long as their children do not eat snacks brought in by other parents.


I've had this issue several times in my class. I send home a note on brightly coloured paper and asked parents to sign the bottom and return it to me so I knew they had read the note. Any notes not returned I called the parents.

The note stated that several children have severe peanut allergies which can lead to serious attacks.

No items with peanuts should be sent to the school for "parties, snacks or recess treats". These items could include, baking, chocolates, lunchables, etc., that contain peanuts, peanut oil or peanut butter.

I also send a list of items that made good snacks, treats, etc.,


And I also asked the parents to show me exactly what to do in case of an attack.

With the "shocked" parent - you might also want to mend bridges now to get her back on your side otherwise she may cause you problems all year long. She probably didn't mean to be rude but because she knows how serious it can be - couldn't see your side of the situation.

And if it is the worse case scenario then you may have to either provide snacks yourself (ask for money donations instead so you can buy the snack) and then find out which companies/stores carry nut-free items. Or go snack-free - parents will understand if there is no choice.

I'm guessing that the concern is that not all parents will remember 100% of the time not to send items with peanuts. And if your school does not have a rule with recess times, etc., then that is an issue you may need to bring up. Your school should be nut-free if you have students with severe enough allergies. For example a child in another class brings a peanut-butter sandwich to school. She eats lunch, does not wash her hands and then plays with equipment in the gym for her gym class. Your class goes to gym next, student with allergy touches the same equipment and goes into a seizure.

The year we had a serious allergy we had to be on guard all the time and we did catch a few infractions over the year where we had to call the mom to come and take her child home as there was danger of him coming into contact with peanuts.


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Peanut allergies!
Old 08-29-2006, 06:12 PM
 
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I myself have a peanut allergy, so my classroom is nut free. I would have the parents give you a list of snacks that are completely safe. If other kids want to bring in treats, pass out the list to all of the parents and say they must select a snack off of the list to bring. In terms of daily snacks, I would simply say no peanuts or nuts. Usually, if the product is just "may contain peanuts", you don't need to worry about smells or anything contaminating the classroom. I always tell my students and they tend to be very protective of me, or any other student that has allergies.
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Wonder why...
Old 08-29-2006, 06:26 PM
 
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There are so many kids allergic to peanuts these days? Is it because we just didn't know it back in the "old days" or is it because doctors are better equipped to diagnose these days? Regardless, it's a very scary and serious situation that we have to face in this day and age.

Our nurse came by last week with one of those epi-pens and a 5 minute video that we all had to watch. One of our 3rd graders has a severe reaction to peanuts....one that if she even smells it on someone's breath she could have a seizure and die. It scares me for her to eat in the cafeteria!
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Severe Peanut Allergy
Old 08-29-2006, 06:51 PM
 
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I had a student in a class I interned at during college that had a very severe peanut allergy. It was so bad that one of her parents picked her up from school at lunchtime, took her home to eat, then brought her back to school. She couldn't even be in the cafeteria in case there was some form of peanut being used. I didn't realize until this particular student that peanut allergies could be so deadly!
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Old 08-29-2006, 06:57 PM
 
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I've had three epxeriences in my classroom and my son went to school (10 years) with girl with peanut allergy. In every case they couldn't eat something made with peanuts. Their parents are generally informed of a party/celebration and make sure they send their child a treat that's acceptable. In my son's classroom the parents of the child with the peanut allergy always acted as homeroom parents and participated in the parties too. They were able to join the fun, help the teacher, and keep an eye on their daughter. Ask the parents the particulars. This seems unusual that the others kids would be so limited because of this student's peanut allergy. Good luck.
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Old 08-30-2006, 02:59 AM
 
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We are a peanut free school also. Our school canteen is very careful and all students are reminded often that they are not to bring anything containing peanuts. If I was at teacher of one of these students I wouldn't even have peanut butter for breakfast before school. One of the students (all from the same family and various degreea of allegies) can have a reaction just from smelling or sitting next to someone with peanuts.
We learned in a staff meeting how to use an epipen and the legal requirements when dealing with allergies.

Parents are usually very good with remembering about no peanuts. But reminders regularly are good. We also have signs on the classroom doors of the classes with these children. It is a little no peanut sign and saying peanut free classroom.


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Old 08-30-2006, 03:03 AM
 
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Our school is peanut-free, but I have mixed feelings since the world is not.

Since children share manipulatives there are strict guidelines for handwashing when they enter. However, I worry that it creates a false sense of safety for children. They will encounter traces of peanut products on items people have touched at movies, the mall, etc.

Still I would not want a child injured on my watch and am very cautious to adhere to these guidelines.

For your specific situation I would ask for a list of peanut free snacks and require the children to bring only those into the classroom. Have your students place their lunchboxes into a laundry basket outside the classroom door and leave it in the cafe.

As for birthdays, parties, etc. I feel strongly that food should never be used in these situations. Kids get too much junk food and not enough exercise as it is. As a teacher I feel it is important to foster the overall well-being of my students and providing them with junk food opportunities is counter-productive.
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exactly
Old 08-30-2006, 01:12 PM
 
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Students bring their own snack and have the parent help you make a list of okay snack suggestions allowed in your classroom. Have your nurse involved also, as she will need to alert the special teachers, the office, and the cafeteria. Its important this information is shared. Also, like Ilv said, you must send home a letter and make all the parents aware that no nuts can be brought into the classroom. I would also attach an article or doctors note of some kind in case there is any skeptics. Because this is a very big deal, if the parents seem annoying about it--good, they are protecting their child. Lots of children seem to have allergies these days- or some other diet restrictions, so its easier to have some clear and simple food policys. I do NOT allow my students to share food. If someone wants to bring in a birthday treat for the class, they must let me know a week in advanced so I can alert the parents and ask them to call me if their child is not allowed to eat a treat. It also gives the parent of a child not allowed to replace it with a special treat that day that is extra special to them...and won't make them sick I had a little K friend once who always got sherbert on a day when kids had a special snack he couldn't eat. (he had lots of other allergies). He couldn't wait for a peers birthday! I also encourage (at holiday or other celebrations) non-food treats. Pencils, bubbles, stickers, temp. tattoos, toothbrushes, superballs, bookmarks, and little treasures of the like-are usually the most enjoyed.
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Thanks
Old 08-30-2006, 03:21 PM
 
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Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions and advice. You guys are the best. We have so many peanut allergies at our school that we have a "Peanut table" for the allergic kids. We also have a "Just to be safe" table for kids with less severe or multiple food allergies.
It would not bother me to do away with snack, but knowing what he (and the other two) students can have would be helpful.

I guess this mother was the room mother last year in her son's second grade class and she prepared fruit as their treat. The kids had no snack at school and no traditional b-day treats. I am really fine with that - I do not like the kids getting sugary junk food.

I have spoken with my principal and apparently this child (and parents) can be quite difficult about anything and everything. He advised me not to do snack for the first few days and get a letter out to parents soon.
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Nut Allergies
Old 08-30-2006, 05:09 PM
 
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I have a student this year who has a life-threatening nut allergy. The mom brought me a packet of information about the child and how they had her situation. I asked the mom if she was in any danger if she was around someone who was eating something that contained nuts. Mom said so far that has not been a problem.

My situation is a little different, because the parents have been really nice and helpful. They just said that the little girl must eat only lunch and snacks that were sent from home. If there is going to be a birthday celebration, I just need to let her know in advance and she will send in something that the child can eat during the special snack time. Also, mom said that if I wanted to do an activity that contained food, then she will come in and read the ingredients to see if it is safe for her to eat.

In your case, I would ask the mom if she could provide a snack for the child to eat during snack time. That way you can still have snack time and there is no chance for the child to eat something that could harm her/him.
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I never knew a lot about it until recently...
Old 08-31-2006, 02:14 PM
 
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and our entire school was asked not to have any kind of nuts (except for the human kind ) in our entire school campus area...including any snacks, foods, etc. We were told that if a child is near something that even TOUCHED nuts on the shelf in a store, they could get very sick...we have some students like this this year...they said no nuts...period...please, because of SEVERE allergies....schoolwide.

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allergies
Old 08-31-2006, 03:53 PM
 
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I would not have snack any more in my room if I had it. It's bad enough that when the kids have partial days that they come to my room for lunch. I've had to do lunch duty before too. I have a couple kids with peanut allergies this year. I also have other students with other food allergies including myself. I am highly allergic to strawberry-strawberry anything. They have strawberry milk now for school lunches. I don't know who thought that was a good idea. I can't even be around strawberry. So fruit would not be safe for me to be around. I know many others who are allergic to other foods too. They don't get the publicity that peanuts do. I don't think its worth the possibiltiy of someone having a reaction to the treats in order to have treats in your room. The kids don't need to snack during the school day. I make sure my class has water available during the day instead. It is very healthly for them and it doesn't run the risk as do foods. I can understand how mom wants to make sure her son is safe. It's not easy being allergic to things. Sometimes people see it as being "difficult", but remember they don't chose to be allergic, it just happens. Anyone can become allergic at any time. I didn't develop my allergies and asthma until I was in my early 20s. Its not a good feeling to be treated differently and get left out of things because of your health. One of my parents told me she'd be writing me a lot of notes. i asked why and she told me about her son's medical needs due to allergies and asthma. I'm the first teacher one of my parents can relate to because her son takes the same meds and has the same problems as I do. I carry an Epipen, emergency inhaler etc. She said that her son's teacher last year didn't understand. I guess until you can put yourself in someone else's shoes, you can't know how it really is. I guess being that way myself, I can see how mom took your words the way she did.
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Old 08-31-2006, 05:48 PM
 
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As the mother of a child who has an anaphylactic allergy to nuts, I have to say that it is VERY scary to send your child to school knowing that something they might eat could ACTUALLY kill them. I know many people whose allergic reactions are "limited" to rashes, vomiting, hives and the like. But for a person who could die because of someone else's food - I think it's really important to be sensitive to the concerns of the parents - and the child! And as many have already pointed out - some children are SO allergic they don't even have to ingest the nuts, just being in the same room with them can cause a fatal reaction. SO SCARY!!
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peanut allergy
Old 08-31-2006, 07:20 PM
 
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our school counselor is deathly allergic to peanuts. she just developed this allergy a couple of years ago. it is so bad that she can no longer attend football or baseball games because of people eating peanuts in the stands around her. The dust from or smell of peanuts sends her into anaphylactic shock. She's had attacks several times at school. Once she was in the office just a couple of doors from her own office when an attack started. Before she could run the couple of yards to get her epi-pen, she collapsed unconscious on the floor. A reaction is very quick! If your students are this allergic, I would definitely respect their parents wishes and do everything possible to protect those kids.
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Old 09-09-2007, 07:39 AM
 
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My son is deathly allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. I was responsible for setting forth the school guidelines for my sons school on food allergies because I am also a nurse.As a school it is obvious that the safety of a childs health far outweighs the need for parents to have nuts both legally and morally. It frustrates me that as a society, for less than 8 hours we can't just simply avoid products that can quickly lead to another childs death. we are all parents. I will tell you that the 23 children in the class would be for more upset watching a classmate suffocate in front of them than missing out on a snack. Thats what you tell the other parents. I make a point to donate treats that are fun for everyone but peanut free. It should not be in question on how to handle it. NO NUTS!!! Federal law can be brought in under the disabilities act to enforce it, so just make it simple. No nuts or dead student. Let's start really caring about our youth again. Ask parents if it was their child!!
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Great response Peanutmom!
Old 10-02-2007, 06:42 AM
 
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What a great response! I have a 4yo who was just diagnosed with severe allergies. I am brand new to this and am overwhelmed at times. My daughter just started pre-school and already I am feeling uncomfortable with her safety as parents have brought in products that were unsafe for my child. Before school began, I gave a presentation as to what an allergy is, what causes it, the signs and symptoms, and finally the seriousness of it. I even now bring in all the snacks with parent donations when it is their child's day to bring in snack. The US is one of the unhealthiest countries in the world with childhood obesity, so why do our children need a snack for a 2.5 hour school day?

Today I was asked to call her immunologist to see if a child could do a presentation on a buckeye. Is a buckeye a tree nut? I don't know, so I made the call and started surfing the web before class starts. I stumbled upon this site and just wanted to say thanks. The allergist/immunologist said it should be okay as long as the shell isn't broken but I am still very uncomfortable with this. Nut oils can stay on the skin for 4-6 hours and my daughter puts her fingers in her mouth constantly. She just broke her habit of thumb-sucking.

The school has been designated as a "nut-free" facility so I was a little bit confused as to why I would be asked this question. I think I will use your response regarding the persons with disabilities act and No nuts or dead student. Thanks for the encouragement.
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hygiene hypothesis
Old 10-02-2007, 07:44 AM
 
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Quote:
There are so many kids allergic to peanuts these days? Is it because we just didn't know it back in the "old days" or is it because doctors are better equipped to diagnose these days? Regardless, it's a very scary and serious situation that we have to face in this day and age.
I personally believe in the Hygiene Hypothesis. "The Hygiene Hypothesis states that the more hygienic a society is, the more allergic they are as well. Studies suggest that the immune system in early infancy is primed to recognize and fight infections. In the absence of infections, the immune system begins to target innocuous items in the child’s diet and environment." It was first proposed by a German researcher, I think. In any case, she studied East and West Germany, comparing the allergy and asthma rates in modern, clean West Germany with the dirtier, less modern East Germany.
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:02 AM
 
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Don't ever feel guilty about protecting your child. I have found that it is other parents that are difficult. The kids themselves want their friend safe. Parents can't seem to get that. If it is not a financial burden to the school, they must put in policy to keep our kids safe. I have learned to teach my son that even if your class is "nut free", that does not mean 100% safe. Nothing is nut free. There's always that one parent that doesn't care. Really teach them what to avoid and how to live protecting themselves. Also, there is a bill in congress ready to pass requiring policy in schools for food allergies to keep our kids safe. I have had to put up my own signs outside classrooms, send my own notes to parents. Teachers usually comply, but don't always know exactly what to do. Sometimes we need to help and give them a little push. It is a constant battle. The squeaky wheel does win though. I have partnered with other parents to ensure school safety. We all take a part. I'm the policy maker. Another mom makes sure our school parties are nut free. We had to join the PTO to make sure our voice is constant. Good luck.
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Allergies ... sigh
Old 12-18-2007, 10:30 AM
 
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Allergies are huge burden on teachers and schools in general.

I disagree with peanutmom who said that there is always one parent who doesn't care.

I really think that most parents DO care and can be educated to understand the seriousness of it, even if it is a hassle.

However, don't assume that because a peanut makes it into the classroom that the "parents don't care." Yes, there are some jerk parents out there; I've even heard them saying things such as "oh, it's just all in their heads." Sigh. Those parents ARE jerks.

However, sometimes peanuts DO slip in. Maybe mom is very aware of the policy and the one day she's in bed sick, dad hurriedly makes lunch for all three kids. Yes, he probably read and signed the peanut policy sheet on bright paper but it's been months ago and frankly it's not on his mind. He's more worried about mom being sick, being late to work, etc. He throws together the first thing he finds and ... voila! Peanuts sneak in.

Sometimes kids make their own lunches (a kindergartner in our school recently brought in her lunch box a fruit roll up ... and nothing else ... because her mom was still in bed when the bus came) and little kids sometimes either forget or they get confused ("you mean peanut butter is also bad? I thought it was just peanuts.")

Other times, parents don't realize things like PLAIN M&Ms containing traces of peanuts, etc. They just forget to read labels.

While there are real jerks out there I really think most families WANT to comply but they can innocently slip up and send in the wrong food.

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Old 03-23-2009, 07:18 AM
 
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To put it simply how would the "23 other parents" feel should the snack they supplied their child killed another!

This is serious and not to be taken lightly. There are many healthy snack options that are peanut/tree nut free.

Ignorance is not an option. Acting as if the other students are "doing without" seems unfair when those children are welcome to eat what ever they wish, the only stipulation is not at school. It is the children with allergies that can not ever!! enjoy those treats and foods.
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Old 03-24-2009, 03:29 AM
 
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We have three life-threatening peanut allergies in our school. The entire school is a peanut-safe zone. No homemade treats can be brought in, and no "may contain..." treats. It's taken several years for the "may contain" to be successful, but we're there now.

The biggest problem with peanuts is the oils. It's possible for a child to eat something with peanuts, then go out for recess and touch a piece of equipment. When the peanut-allergic child touches it, they can have a reaction. That's why we're school-wide and not just in the classrooms where those children are.
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