Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to School with Food Allergies

For those of us whose children have food allergies, going to school can be a scary prospect.

Olive's new school is not nut-free (as her last one was) which has caused me a lot of anxiety. However, the staff has been phenomenal in their support of children's special needs. Apparently in this (much larger) school, there are only 3 kiddos with nut allergies. This is so strange to me as in her previous school, I think there were 3 kids in her class of 10 with nut allergies. Anyhow, the principal and teachers sat down with the parents and we reviewed action plans for possible reactions and what to do in case of emergency as well as what things are and are not safe for our children to eat (if you haven't been following my posts, you may not realize that there are SO many more things besides just peanuts and peanut butter that aren't safe for Olive). In another very positive step, the school sent a great letter to the parents in our classrooms and I thought I would share it here in the hopes that another FA (Food Allergy) family could use this as a method of communication within their schools. Also, at Olive's school, they provide the snacks for the children. Since she is not able to eat all the same foods as the other kids, they give her the ones that are safe for her (fruit, cheese, etc.) and I keep a stockpile of other non-perishables (pretzels, cheese crackers, fruit snacks) in her classroom to use as a substitute for the others.

Here's the letter:

Dear Fellow Parent/Guardians,

Occasionally a health concern arises in a school setting that requires enlisting the support of parent/guardians and the classmates to help make the classroom a safe and healthy place for all. This letter is to inform you that a sutdent in your child's classroom has a severe allergy to peanuts/tree nuts. For this child, strict avoidance of these allergens is the only way to prevent a life-threatening allergic reaction.

We are asking for your assistance in providing our students with a safe learning environment. Even touching a small amount of a product or acidental ingestion containing peanuts/tree nuts could result in a life-threatening situation that requires emergency medical treatment. To reduce the risk of exposure in the classroom, we are asking that you consider not sending any products containing nuts for your child to eat during snack or lunchtime and for birthday treats as well. Some examples include: peanut butter, peanuts, or snacks specifically containing peanuts. Products produced on shared equipment are also a concern for these children, but we understand that avoiding this altogether would be difficult. Please read ingredient labels carefully, but understand we may still double check since they are often confusing. If your child has eaten peanuts or tree nuts prior to coming to school, please b e sure their hands ahve been thoroughly washed prior to entering the school.

Parents of two children with this condition have offered their contact information should anyone have questions about the allergy or how to respond.

(this is where my email/phone # and another parent's are listed)

We believe all families understand a parent/guardian's concern about safety and will join us in ensuring the environment is safe for all students. If you have any questions regarding ingredient lists, safe snacks, or other questions, please feel free to contact or email us. Thank you for your help in making this a safe school yar for all!

Not bad, right? Hopefully this helps the other parents understand our concerns. I know lots of parents feel inconvenienced by requests like this but I think we can all understand the parent's need to guard their children as best they can.

Happy eating and good luck at back to school!!

1 comment:

paula said...

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