What should happen in this case? Is it reasonable for students to have to rinse their mouths out and wash their hands even if it takes 30 minutes of instructional time? What about bringing in the peanut-sniffing dogs? Do you agree with the protests?EDGEWATER, Fla. -- A first-grade student at Edgewater Elementary School is struggling with a rare life-threatening peanut allergy, and it's causing a controversy among her classmates' parents.
"We're not talking about she will break out in a rash. We are talking about she will die, stop breathing," said Tracey Bailey, the mother of the 6-year-old girl. The condition affects only 2 percent of the population.
Because of the condition, first-graders at the school are required to wash their hands and rinse out their mouths to avoid bringing peanut particles into the classroom.
"I don't think my child should have to rinse her mouth out three times a day. Nine times out of 10, peanut butter is not coming out of her mouth," said Carrie Starkey, whose daughter is a classmate of the girl.
"Teachers and parents are walking on eggshells," said Laura Burr, a mother of two children attending Edgewater Elementary.
In a letter sent in August, Principal Lynda H. Moore informed parents that the girl "has very severe reactions to even the slightest exposure." The letter stated that the girl can be affected simply by sitting at a table with someone who has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or being touched by someone who has eaten a product containing nuts.
Parents said they feel their children are being stripped of their classroom rights and the girl's condition also prevents students from having holiday parties in the classroom with outside food.
"They shouldn't have to lose out on what they should be able to experience at school," Starkey said.
Parents said all the rules are taking time out of the learning process, and they protested Thursday morning outside the school with signs.
"On average, it's probably a good 30 minutes taken out of the day. That's my child's education. Thirty minutes could be a whole subject," Starkey said.
Protesters handed out fliers that claimed their children were wiped down with Clorox wipes. The fliers also said peanut-sniffing dogs will be at the school and snacks are not allowed in the classroom.
Nancy Wait, of Volusia County Schools, said Clorox wipes are used to clean desks, not students. She said federal law and the Americans with Disabilities Act mandate that the school ensure a safe environment for the girl.
"It is an inconvenience and it might seem like it's a bit overboard," said Wait, "but it's what is medically necessary for a particular student and has been sign off on by a physician."
Wait also said the students wash their hands and wash out their mouths in another classroom twice a day before entering their room. Wait confirmed that a peanut-sniffing dog will be at the school on Friday to search for areas that may contain traces of the allergen, and she added that the costs are not paid for by taxpayers.
The girl's father, David Bailey, admitted the condition is an inconvenience.
"Is it taking away from her education? A little bit, because there's so many things we have to do to keep her safe," Bailey said.
The Baileys apologize for the disruptions, but said it's their job to protect their child.
"I would love everything to be normal and everyone else to have a normal life," Bailey said.
Protesting parents said they hope their message gets school officials to loosen the restrictions in place.
I agree with the protestors. It is not reasonable accomodation to force other students to go to extreme measures. What if a child refuses to rinse their mouth? Will they be punished or not able to enter the classroom? Reasonable accomodation would be to provide a tutor for the child in their home, or put her in a classroom by herself.
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I can't tell from the article... are they banning peanuts/nuts from the school? If so, then it's probably unnecessary since the children will not be handling/eating any of these products during the school day.
However, if the nut products are NOT banned and other children will be eating/handling peanut butter/etc. at school then I don't see it as out of line to ask them to wash hands/rinse after eating them. Schools should be able to provide safe (as possible anyway) environments for ALL students. It is NOT affecting the non-allergic childrens safety by asking them to wash their hands. Actually, in my ds's kindergarten classroom they have the kids line up to wash hands before and after they eat their lunch anyway... no reason other than good hygiene
Our schools are all nut-free within our school board so it's not a big deal to me to ban nuts. In my ds's class there is also a child who has a wheat allergy. They don't ban bread or anything like that but to help accomodate this child, when we volunteer to make playdough for the class the teacher provides us with rice flour rather than having it made with regular flour and when there is a class party, the teacher just asks that if we are planning on sending a treat to let her know ahead of time, she then lets the mother know what is coming and the mother sends a similar item specifically for her child. I guess some people could get bent out of shape over stuff like that but I see it as not a huge deal.
If it were my child with severe/life threatening allergies I would want others to be considerate about my child... so why can I not do the same for someone else's child?
One of the articles stated the kids couldn't even bring stuff to school that was manufactured in a place with nuts. Not sure if it's true or not.
I try to look at it from the girl's parents point of view, but I still can't imagine having to do that with my kid. I think it would be harder to try to make her feel normal with them having to go through all of this extra stuff. I'd hate homeschooling, but I think I would in this situation. Some things are just not meant to be and even if the school goes through all of these extra measures, there is still going to be opportunities for the kids to mess up and it's not worth the risk to me. Obviously her parents feel differently, but it's too much to expect the other kids to do all of this every day.
I'm thankful my girls' allergies are not life threatening. I feel on edge when we're out as it is, so I can't imagine if their reactions were severe how I'd be. I sympathize with this girl and her parents.
I expect my children to accommodate others when possible, even if it means going out of their way a bit. I just think it is a nice thing to do. I'd have no problem with them washing their hands twice a day to help keep this little girl safe. In fact, I hope they wash their hands more than twice a day for their own protection! And rinsing out their mouths isn't such a big deal....probably better for dental hygiene anyway. Once a routine is established it shouldn't take more than a few minutes for this process to be complete. I highly doubt any children were wiped down with Clorox wipes. Furniture and toys, sure. I wipe down everything in my classroom from computer keyboards, to doorknobs, to toys. And if bringing in a peanut sniffing dog will help her, then by all means bring it in. As long as a child doesn't have a serious dog allergy then I see no problem with it.
I think these parents need to pick a better cause and exert their time and resources elsewhere.
How far is too far with accommodations? What is too disruptive to the day or the lives of other students, to where it makes more sense to pay for private tutoring to keep one child safe than take preventive measures with hundreds?
I would say this is crossing the line, when it impacts the teaching and time in appreciable ways due to the procedures undertaken. My kids have allergies, the onus of prevention is on me, even if that means isolating or inconveniencing my child. How is this kid going to function as an adult? Walking through a grocery store? In a mall or workplace? She needs to protect herself, because the thousands of people she comes into contact with can't do it for her.
I don't mind nut-free schools, but this is getting excessive. Have a nurse accompany her to administer quick aid, if needed, it's probably still less disruptive to the school as a whole.
The school district should provide an in-home tutor who is willing to go to those measures rather than subject the entire school to them. Rinsing their mouths out? Give me a break! What happens if someone forgets & the girl has a reaction? The parents sue. Keep her home. Free public education doesn't have to be done at a school building.
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I think these are extreme measures to go to for a student with an allergy. As parents we all want our kids to have the 'normal' experience, but when it is potentially taking away that much time from everyone else's education, i think its appropriate for the district to provide an alternative.
How about the Dad in the end of the article commenting on how it's taking away from his daughter's education. What about the 20 some other kids in the class??
I agree with Spacers, Kim, Taryl, and others. I think it is excessive. I think it is good for kids to be in intergrated classes where they can learn empathy for other's who have different needs and learn to be helpful and go out of their way for someone else. I think that is a fabulous lesson for kids to learn. But it can go to far, and it seems from this article that it has.
I feel horrible for this poor girl, but it is obvious that her allergy is far beyond one that woudl allow for what we consdier a normal life. There are many people who have disabilities of some sort that need special modifications, and though it is unfair, it is the truth. I think maybe a fair compromise would be to home school herand maybe have the kids do these special modifications once a week so she could join the class. IDK, but the way it is now is not fair to the other kids. It is obviously past hand washing when it gets into things like rinsing out their mouths and wiping down with Clorox wipes throughout the day.
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