How far is too far?

[deleted account] ( 107 moms have responded )

Food allergy bans in schools - where do we draw the line? Who's responsibility is it? Are any of your children afflicted with serious allergies?

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Caitlin - posted on 09/08/2010

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Tp all those people saying OMG, what would I feed my kids? Obviously those of us who have kids with allergies feed our kids somehow, i'm sure it's not that hard. It just takes some learning.

For instance, you know there are tons of alternatives to peanut butter? There is peabutter, sunbutter (made from sunflower seeds - which is even better for you than peanut butter for instance, higher in protein and lower in fat and pretty good to boot). It just takes some knowledge and research. As for snacks, Christie has a ton of great snack packs for school - peanut free, nut free (and most are dairy and egg free as well which is great!)

My daughter has a LIFE-THREATENING (anaphylaxis) allergy to dairy, egg, peanut and beef. If I can find options for my daughter, then other parents could do the same. Peanut/nut bans? all for them. Other allergies? not so much.. If it were my daughter going into school (shes only 22 months now) i'd be happy with the ban and not allowing food holidays in the classroom, or kids bringing in cupcakes or whatever for their birthdays, because it just gets everywhere and is too risky and not fair if my kid has to sit there and watch all the other kids enjoy.. I don't feel that donuts, cookies or cupcakes are really appropriate foods anyways, being so high in sugars, we should be encouraging healthy alternatives (but that's another debate).

[deleted account]

Wow, I am surprised by some of these responses. It's just peanut butter! I'm sure your child can cope for 6 hours a day without peanut butter. Lets get some perspective. Your kid goes without peanut butter for a few hours. They cope. Some severly allergic kid comes in contact and goes through a traumatic experience (and so do the teachers and other students) or worse, DIES. I agree that it should be assessed on a case by case basis and you can't expect a whole range of potential allergens to be banned but I think a couple is fine. And who cares if it's not fair to the other kids? The world isn't fair. You can't always have your peanut butter. Learn some coping skills. It builds character.

Caitlin - posted on 09/22/2010

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There are SO many options, and one of the symptoms during an alllergic reaction can be a person goes into shock and CANNOT physically react to give themselves the epi-pen, doesn't matter if they are 5 or 25, some people just freeze, you can't expect just because they know how it works and have played with a trainer and given it to their teddy bear, that they will be able to jab themselves when they are having difficulty breathing and thinking straight, that's why it's important for anyone who has family/friends or is in charge of someone with allergies to know how to use an epi-pen (and not be afraid to do it).

[deleted account]

This is definitely a case by case issue. I don't think it should be a case of "Oh, your child is allergic? Well lets just ban everything!". All aspects need to be considered. I just think that "It's not fair that my child can't have peanutbutter!" is not a good enough reason. You need to look at childrens' safety, nutrition and comprehension of the situation and the ease and practicality of implementation. Everything else is moot in my opinion.

[deleted account]

Dana, the best thing you can do is teach her. I worked at a preschool where a boy was severely allergic to peanuts. His mom put stickers on everything (his jacket, book bag, etc) that said he had an allergy and not to share food with him. Sounds crazy maybe, but it let other adults know. It's especially helpful during parties when you have other parents helping. He also knew he was allergic and that he would get very sick if he ate it. He knew not to eat candy and other things that could possible have peanuts. His parents taught him to only eat those things if they gave it to him.

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Jodi - posted on 09/22/2010

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A lot of five year olds know how to use the toilet and also to wash their hands after doing so. I know some 5 year olds who still have toileting accidents, and a LOT of 5 year olds who still need to be reminded to wash their hands...... just sayin'.

[deleted account]

I was thinking the same thing, Caitlin. Even if a 5 year old knows how to use it, doesn't mean they do use it.

Jodi - posted on 09/22/2010

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No Robin, I didn't miss what you said. You did say that "I think the kids with allergies should eat one room". I am not saying that we can't start teaching kids at this age, but it is hardly appropriate to expect every 4 or 5 year old to know what to do when they have a reaction OR fair to segregate them from everyone else. Segregating them at this age can be incredibly damaging for them.



Yes, there may be people who can only afford peanut butter sandwiches......heard of honey sandwiches? Jam sandwiches? Cheese? Cheese spread? It does not HAVE to be peanut butter. As I have said previously, there are PLENTY of economical options. I've lived with peanut free school environments for 10 years now, I don't think it is a big deal.

Robin - posted on 09/22/2010

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Jodi you totally missed half of what I said yes at 4 and 5 children should know what makes them sick or start teaching them no put them at one table or a room ever think that you might have low income families in your school maybe all they can afford is a peanut butter sandwich my daughter knew how to use her epi at 5

Meghan - posted on 09/10/2010

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I'm thankful that when my son was assumed to have dairy allergies, his school provided soy milk for him. It was awesome.

Jaime - posted on 09/09/2010

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Actually Sally, my comment was in regards to this quote:



"I am sorry no child should be punished and not get to celebrate holidays and birthdays in school because of 1 child. Now this is getting ridiculous!!"



But thanks for wearing your big girl panties to the discussion, glad we could have such a grown-up chat.

Sally - posted on 09/09/2010

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No, Jaime. That is not what I am saying.
What I am saying is dictating an entire schools mealtime based on 1 child seems extreme. It seems there could be another way.
I happen to agree that b-day's belong at home, not in school.
Oh well, busy day. I am off the computer for the day.
Feel free to bash away.

Sherri - posted on 09/09/2010

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We have one birthday a month for all that months birthdays and they don't lose learning time as it is done during snack time/free time. Plus if there were any serious allergies in the classroom we would be given a letter at the beginning of the school year and I am pretty sure parents would be respectful of that.

[deleted account]

WOW! That is scary. Thankfully we haven't witnessed any anaphylactic reactions and ironically enough I had Roxanne tested because I was convinced she had some kind of allergy to dairy and her dad is riddled with food and environmental allergies. Our doctor sent Roxanne for blood tests initially to test for a wide range of allergens. During the week while we were waiting for the results my SIL was visiting for dinner and had given Roxanne a handful of Rieces Pieces. Almost instantly after ingesting a few she started to cry and her breathing was laboured......she looked so scared and with in a matter of minutes she was puking phlegm everywhere. My SIL, being an all knowing RN informed me I had given her too much sugar....LMFAO! ACK! I just had a feeling it was from the Rieces Pieces but wasn't certain until we saw the doctor the next day about the allergy testing. Sure enough, she's allergic to peanuts and from what I can understand about the blood tests is that it's as severe as they come and the doctor is convinced that next time her reaction will be much more serious. I've got another appointment scheduled because I've insisted on the skin test as well to once and for all determine the severity of this allergen. I was equally surprised to find out that she wasn't allergic to dairy AT ALL but was also allergic to egg whites and soy.

I'm surprised when you daughter first went to emerg. and they did the blood test to determine the dairy allergy that they didn't test for a more wide range of things. If you had known sooner I'm sure you could have prevented a few of those anaphylactic reactions. So scary. Seems like you guys are managing really well and it gives me hope so thank you. I really hope I never have to watch Roxanne having a reaction like that.

Jaime - posted on 09/09/2010

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Wow Caitlin, sounds like you've had enough scares in your daughter's short lifetime to definitely want to avoid anymore such reactions. Glad she's okay and here's hoping that she will grow out of her allergies. If not, then at least you are prepared to educate her about safety.

Caitlin - posted on 09/09/2010

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Dana - we found out about our daughters allergies gradually. At 4 months I introduced a cereal that was "just add water" (which contains powdered milk and she swelled up all over her face, I wasn't sure what was going on so I drove her to the ER, and by the time I got her there (about 10 minutes later) she was barely breathing and unconscoius, and tat scared the crap out of me, we got epi-pens, the whole explanation, and they did blood tests and skin tests confirmed the milk allergy and ruled out an allergy to the cereal.

At 9 months I was introducing egg and she had a similar reaction except this time, she swelled up all over her body, started throwing up projectile style and started wheezing and turning blue - at this point we had the epi-pen (thank god). Yet again, blood tests to confirm the egg allergy (to the whites and yolks) and also added peanut to the list using the blood test(the allergy was confirmed later when sticky toddler fingers grabbed my toast off the table while I had my back turned to her. Luckily she didn't eat any of it, but she needed a very quick bath and a very strong dose of benadryl becausde the hives were spreading VERY fast). Beef basically happened the same way, it's a releif to have the epi-pens at hand!

In all she's almost 22 months old and she's had 6 anaphylactic reactions. We see a specialist every 6 months and they do more skin scratch tests to see if her reaction is changing. If it decreases in sensitivity (the size of the hive) then they will do a blood tests to confirm, then hopefully an oral challenge. Honestly, I don't think about it so much anymore, maybe it will change when she's older and going to parties and school, but for now we still go to the park, I just watch her closely and make sure she's fine. Besides a few hives on her hands and or legs, she's been fine, and benadryl has cleared all of that up. An anaphylactic reaction only happens when the allergen goes in the mouth, and my daughter doesn't put her hands in her mouth much, so usually it's pretty safe (she does like to put her toys in her mouth though, so we don't have other kids over a lot).

[deleted account]

I agree kinda with the birthday thing. Sometimes it feels like every week there's a birthday at work. We have about 8 kids with birthdays in November alone. That's a lot of birthday cakes.

Jodi - posted on 09/09/2010

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We have a policy not to take cakes to school for the whole class on birthdays because there are a couple of kids who can't eat them. Instead, it has been suggested to take in flavoured ice blocks for them or something, as they are happy to store them in the freezer at the canteen. Just not anything that contains the foods of the kids who have allergies. I still don't see the big deal. There are still plenty of options.

[deleted account]

And anyway, school is for learning. We didn't celebrate birthdays at the school I went to or taught at. We had Christmas and end of the year parties. Celebrating 25 birthdays over a time of 9 months puts us at 2 or 3 parties a month. That's a lot of learning time wasted. Sure, let the birthday kid be the line leader for the day or get by with not doing homework and let the kids sing happy birthday. But why can't parents just wait to celebrate with cupcakes at home?

Done chasing that rabbit.

IF you insist on bringing treats to school for the class to share, make it a treat that the WHOLE class can enjoy.

Jaime - posted on 09/08/2010

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Not being able to celebrate holidays or birthdays in school with treats is not the end of the world. I'm not sure why it's ridiculous to suggest refraining from sending cupcakes and such, because last time I checked they were not a food staple for nutrition or survival...get over it.

[deleted account]

No problem with that, just be sensitive to a child that could possibly die if exposed to a peanut butter cup.

Sherri - posted on 09/08/2010

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Why can't they have a cake or cupcakes? Typically we have birthdays celebrated with the parent bringing in juice and cake/or cupcakes. For holidays each parent brings in a goody.

[deleted account]

Why must a classroom celebration include peanuts? Can't we just serve some fruits and veggies, and maybe some non-peanut butter candy and call it a day?

Sherri - posted on 09/08/2010

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I am sorry no child should be punished and not get to celebrate holidays and birthdays in school because of 1 child. Now this is getting ridiculous!!

Jodi - posted on 09/08/2010

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Well, you are saying "my kid has food aversions, so suck it up"......



I agree with Loureen, there ARE plenty of options. Nearly every school in Australia is pretty much nut free, and we seem to cope just fine. Maybe if your child couldn't cope with a peanut ban, SHE should sit in a room on her own to eat her peanut butter? Do you think that is any more appropriate than a child with peanut allergies being isolated in the same way? I would hazard a guess that you would not agree to this because it is discrimination? How is it fair, then, for the child who has a LIFE THREATENING allergy? It's not like your child's "condition" is life threatening.

Sally - posted on 09/08/2010

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I have to disagree with you Loureen. There are not Plenty of options. A ban maybe needed but it does cause problems for others. There should be some way to make it work for all, without an outright ban.
There has to be a better solution than just saying my kid is allergic so suck it up.
Why does it have to be only one way?

Charlie - posted on 09/08/2010

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My god , seriously if the only problem you have is that you dont know what to pack for lunch due to a few bans on foods then think yourself lucky , use your imagination there is PLENTY of options , no school ever banned every food its really not the huge deal people make out Personally i feel a child's life is far more important than than my rights to certain foods .

Starr - posted on 09/08/2010

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If my child couldn't have anything but water and peas for lunch at school that would be fine by me. Just knowing I wouldnt have to worry about my child possibly being the cause of anothers coma or death from their allergy is all I would need. I'm not saying we should have to ban every allergen but I wouldnt fight it if it can keep our babies safe!!

[deleted account]

Sally, very specifically to our current situation - peanuts are the ONLY nut Roxanne is allergic to. I wouldn't have a problem with your daughter eating almonds but again that's just our situation. I definitely agree with Anika - this needs to be delt with case by case.

Caitlin - I'm curious.....how did you find out your daughter was allergic. How did you have her tested?

Sally - posted on 09/08/2010

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Again, I am not sure 1 child should dictate an entire schools lunch plan.
I totally agree it is a serious issue. I just think there has to be another way than a complete ban.
I am dealing with my own food issues, so when you say there are other options, for us there isn't. I have been dealing with food aversion since my daughter was 6 months old. So having a replacement food just does not happen here. Sorry to have angered you so, just posted an opinion. Thought that what OP wanted.

Caitlin - posted on 09/08/2010

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and Sally - being Vegan is a CHOICE - not a necessity. My daughter is almost vegan because of her allergies, but she still eats chicken and turkey, but gets most of her protein from other sources, like sunbutter (as I metioned above is higher in protein than peanut butter) or soy products (which I agree may be a problem is there is a soy allergy in play - in which case she would get her calcium through rice milk).

I don't support banning everything - but there are ALWAYS alternatives!

Sally - posted on 09/08/2010

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I have a hard time with food bans. I see the need, I get the seriousness of them but I do find it unfair to the other kids and parents. I know kids who are vegan and my own daughter has food aversion issues. I work hard to get enough protein in her. One of her main sources is Almonds. With a nut ban, I would have a hard time packing her lunch. She does not eat any meat. So Almonds fill a void. Been working hard to get her to eat p-nut butter. Today she ate 1/4 of a peanut butter sandwich. Thats huge for us. So I am not sure 1 kid should get to dictate the whole schools diet. There has to be a way to separate tables/food ect.
I feel bad any kid has to deal with those types of allergies. I hope some of desentsitzing breakthroughs work and become available soon.

Jaime - posted on 09/08/2010

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I agree with everything you said Dana. Food bans are only the first step, but educating everyone is the key. And I will always support food bans in schools, regardless of how I personally feel about them.

[deleted account]

P.S. Roxanne isn't even two yet and I've already taught her that before she takes food from anyone she needs to tell them about her allergies. She says, "Nonna, I have pweenut awwergies"....so we ARE doing our part!

[deleted account]

I would assume that's why also.

I started this post in hopes that it would bring awareness to this issue. It's not cut and dry and I'm telling you that until you're in a situation like mine you can't possibly understand the severity of it. I think that educating everyone about these allergies is more important than even banning them. Food bans are only the first step to decrease the risks for these elementary aged kids. I'm glad that there aren't any bans in your school district but I'm just hope that you'd show SOME compassion if there was. These kids don't wish for this to happen to them and they don't need to be made to feel like they're outcasts. They need to be educated but so does everyone else.

Sherri - posted on 09/08/2010

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See we don't have any children in our school system with allergies these severe so I would imagine that would be why we don't have bans in our school.

[deleted account]

I agree, Jaime....education is key. We can't just ban foods; we need to educate everyone....staff, children, other PARENTS about these SEVERE allergies. How can we not when lives are at stake?

Jaime - posted on 09/08/2010

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Ya, even though I am all about educating kids about allergies, I'm still with the other ladies on this one. A five-year-old can comprehend hand-washing and such, but they can't always be expected to remember to do so--especially when their attention spans are still very limited. Someone could easily distract them and that could prove dangerous. Banning certain foods isn't the end of it...there has to be food bans and education for everyone.

Sherri - posted on 09/08/2010

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I would highly recommend you start teaching her now to try and not have other people touch her very often. Do you know how many kids have peanut butter toast in the morning and don't wash there hands before getting to school or going on the bus. It seems her allergy could be a problem just having another child touch her coming directly from home.

[deleted account]

Thank you, Jodi....I was thinking the same thing.

Robin, my daughter will be going into school at age 4 and you honestly expect her to know how to take necessary precautions or for that matter, you expect other 4-5 year olds to understand the dangers that go along with these types of severe allergies. A bee allergy is different. Your daughter only has to worry about bees, not another 5 year old passing her a granola bar to share with peanuts in it or touching her arm after they've eaten one etc. It's completely different.

Jodi - posted on 09/08/2010

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Robin, you expect a FIVE YEAR OLD to know what to do?



But hey, let's just segregate them instead, because they are different, in another room to boot. That will make them feel like they've done nothing wrong.....



We are talking about schools that have children from age 4-5, not just 9 or 10 year olds. A 5 year old may know certain things make them sick, but kids that age don't necessarily know how to handle it. A high school, I get your point, but at grade school age level, I just don't understand your logic.

Robin - posted on 09/08/2010

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I think the kids with allergies should eat one room I strongly feel that we should be able to send nuts and milk and and any other good food or snack to school children with allergies have to go on buses and play grounds and I think parents should teach there children how to manage there allergies not make the school ban good snacks and lunches My kids love nuts peanut butter and would drink milk over juice we are always hearing how we should give healthy snacks and lunches how can we do that when it seems the next thing we can not bring is going to be bread so no fish no dairy no nuts wow what next theses are the foods are kids should eat and sorry your kids are allergic but does that mean my kids are not to eat healthy that would be like a parent like me saying well my daughter has a bee allergy she is not allowed out of the school and I want no class trips outdoors for the whole school NO I have taught my daughter how to use her epi she is 9 and knows just what to do if she gets bite I cant be there 24 hours a day

Jodi - posted on 09/07/2010

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I think a big reason nuts are banned is because it does actually account for more allergens than anything else. I know at our school, there are quite a number of children who have a peanut allergy, so that is quite a number of children who have to be monitored. it is easier and more sensible just to ban nuts. However, there is only one child with celiac's (which is not life threatening on a day-to-day basis), and only one who has an egg allergy which causes major issues, but that is only one child who needs to be monitored. Her photograph is up in the canteen and int he school staff room so that ALL teachers are aware of it, and recognise her. Keeping an eye on one child with an allergy to egg is much easier than keeping an eye on 10 kids (I am not sure exactly how many it is, but around that somewhere) with a peanut allergy.

[deleted account]

I don't think you sound insensitive but I know you. I just think it's hard for the moms with kids with allergies when people just talk about it like it's a nuisance and it's just so cut and dry for them....I used to be one of them. I thought it was obsurd to ban things from schools and I still do at the highschool and college level. I do however, think that daycare and preschool 'individual' classrooms need to enforce bans.....the only other alternative is to homeschool our children or at least that's how it's appearing to me? I can't trust Roxanne at 4 to take necessary precautions so we need the school (or classroom) to help. What else should I do?

Rosie - posted on 09/07/2010

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someones child on here (i think caitlin) is deathly allergic to dairy, beef and wheat? can't remember the last one. anyway the oil in cheese is just as bad as peanut oil for getting everywhere, and it could potentially kill that child, just as peanuts. and deathly allergic to beef? i mean seriously where would it stop? until theres no more food left for people to eat?

others have stated they don't think that a school would go farther than a peanut ban, no matter who else has allergies. i don't think that is true. of course we wouldn't know until the time comes, but i can just go with MY feelings if my child were in that situation. if someone elses kid had an allergy to peanuts and the school banned peanuts, then i want my hypothetical kids allergies of beef, dairy and wheat banned too!! and i know i wouldn't stop until i got what i wanted. if they said no to the peanut ban and just did a seperate area for those kids, then i wouldn't have much of a leg to stand on with my argument that "they got it (their allergen banned), why can't i?"
i don't know, am i making sense, and not sounding to horribly insensitive? i'm sorry if i'm coming off that way. :)

[deleted account]

My best friend is severely allergic to tree nuts. We played volleyball together and the parents would put together snack bags. She ate some food out of there and it turned out something had nuts in it and it was NOT obvious that it had nuts in it. We were in high school so it's not like she didn't know any better, you just couldn't tell without reading the label and there was no label on the individual snack. It's scary to watch someone go into anaphylactic shock and like others have said that's way worse then going without peanut butter (or whatever) during the school day.

Sherri - posted on 09/07/2010

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No your right Dana he won't die from it but has ended up in the burn unit for accidentally spilling a cup of cold tea that had milk in it on himself.

Really I understand where you are coming from Dana. Your job as her mom is to protect her and you are trying to do that to the best of your ability. No one can fault you on that. Great job!!



No Jodi they don't they don't get home until 4pm and we have dinner by 5pm. It really isn't an issue here anyways Jodi as our school doesn't have any bans.

[deleted account]

Thanks for that, Jodi!

Sherri, I'm still wondering if that child would die from the burns? I doubt it very much.....Roxanne used to have an INTOLERANCE to milk and the same thing happened to her. She's also outgrown it and besides that it wasn't life threatening. I would never expect something like that to be banned.

Jodi - posted on 09/07/2010

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"My kids only eat 3 meals a day period. Breakfast, lunch, dinner so you are asking 1,200 kids to give up a staple of childhood and have to never have what they want for lunch because of your child."

Your kids can have peanut butter on weekends and on holidays, I think you are being overly dramatic in that statement. Don't your kids have an after school snack? Give it to them then.

It doesn't hurt to go without during the week. Look at all the other things you could put on your kids' sandwiches during the week. My kids swap and change and do something different every day. Maybe ham and cheese one day, honey another, jam, vegemite, egg and lettuce, there are so MANY options, and it is a fantastic opportunity to introduce more variety into your children's diets.

My kids have a very unselfish awareness that there are children at their school who have a bad allergy, and they honestly don't mind not having their peanut butter or nutella so those kids don't get sick. I really commend them on their attitude towards something these children are afflicted with through no fault of their own.

I've lived with the ban at school for years (since Jayden started school 7 years ago) and it isn't that difficult. I'd hardly call it a hardship.

[deleted account]

Is he going to die from the burns? Unless your answer is yes, then NO they shouldn't ban it but when lives are at stake I can't help but think SOMETHING needs to take place to HELP DECREASE (not eliminate) the risks.

Sherri, it wasn't directed at you either. I think what you've described that your schools do is wonderful and they're making efforts. Great. It's my job to evaluate and consider everything and then make a choice as to what we're going to do.....where we're going to send Roxanne to school......whether or not we should homeschool her until she's old enough to take her own precautions......what friends she can play with......whether or not she can play at parks etc. There's just a ton to consider. I'm not upset with everyone and I do agree with you to some extent Sherri.......we can't cater to everyone. Now I need to figure out what we're going to do.

I do appreciate everyones opinions.

[deleted account]

No, not really Sherri. I think milk is a little different though. As its a liquid (unless he's allergic to it in cooking as well?) its easier to know if it's on a child's skin or clothing.

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