ONE SCHOOL'S DECISION REGARDING PEANUT ALLERGY

 

The Food Allergy Committe of Montreal's Hebrew Academy took the following position April 26th, 1999 regarding the question of 'banning' peanuts in their school.

HEBREW ACADEMY
ALLERGY MANAGEMENT PROTOCOL
 
 

Parental responsibilities

 
1. Parents acknowledge the presence of allergens in the school that may affect their children.
 
2. Parents will assume primary responsibility for educating their children in the management of their allergies, e.g. to wear Medic-Alert bracelets, to carry Epi-pens (as prescribed by their treatment plans), to know their food limitations, not to share food, utensils or containers, to tell an adult if they experience the onset of reaction.
 
3. Parents must annually sign the Registration Contract requiring updated medical information and action plans for each student before admission is permitted at the beginning of each year.
 
4. Parents of allergic children will identify their children to school administrators and their child's teachers. Parents of highly allergic children will co-sign the Emergency Allergy Action Plan and Consent Form for Administration of Epi-pen/Anakit that are to be completed and signed by the child's doctor, preferably one who is a specialist in the diagnosis and management of allergic conditions. (covering letter and copies attached.)
 
5. Parents will provide the school with injectable adrenaline in the form of Epi-pens for children with allergies, when medically indicated. The child with a life-threatening food allergy will have two Epi-pens: one to be carried in the student's fanny pack and the second to be kept in the office. If desired, parents may provide additional Epi-pens to be kept at other locations in the school, e.g. classrooms, library, gym. It is the responsibilisty of the parents to verify expiration dates of their child's Epi-pens.
 
6. Parents of food allergic children should provide a "stash" - i.e. a supply of safe snacks for special school events and periodically check its supply and freshness.
 
7. A parent, acting as liaison to the school, is expected to volunteer to assist in the sensitization of parents, students and staff.
 
 

Student responsibilities

 
1. Children will wear Medic-Alert bracelets detailing their allergies.
 
2. Food allergic children must understand their limitations and not share food, utensils, or containers. There is already a "no share food" policy in the school.
 
3. Children with severe food allergies must carry their Epi-pens in a fanny pack at school and on all school-sponsored activities outside the building.
 
School responsibilities
 
The school will identify one individual in the administration who takes primary responsibility for implementation of this protocol.
 
EDUCATION
 
The school aims to create and maintain awareness of food allergies and their consequences for all staff, students and parents.
 
1. Office, educational and administrative staff will receive workshops in recognition of possible life threatening symptoms, training in emergency procedures, administration of medication, and other health related issues.
 
2. A letter will notify all parents of the Management of Food Allergies Protocol. Information on the Protocol will be included in the Handbook/Calendar and summer mailing.
 
3. At the beginning of the school year, an information letter will be sent to parents whose children are in classes with allergic children, i.e. "There is a child in your child's class with food allergies, etc."
 
4. Elementary and high school students will be sensitized to and receive information on allergic conditions.
 
5. Cafeteria meal preparation will consider the needs of children with allregies in order to minimize the risk for these children. Currently, the cafeteria kitchen uses no peanut butter, no peanuts, peanut oil and products containing peanuts/peanut oil and does not cook or re-heat fish. Cafeteria food handlers and lunch mothers will be made aware of those students with life-threatening food allergies.
 
6. The office storage cupboard where Epi-pens are kept will be well marked and accessible. All staff will know of its location.
 
 
PROCEDURE
 
1. For each child with a life-threatening allergy in the elementary school, a laminated Emergency Allergy Action Plan with photograph will be affixed to the teacher's desk or wall in the classroom. In the high school, a description of the student's Emergency Allergy Action Plan will be distributed to all his teachers. Laminated Emergency Allergy Action Plans will be posted on the bulletin boards in the cafeteria and office. The office and staff room will have a binder containing a complete listing of all children with allergies.
 
2. The use of adrenaline (epinephrine) is crucial in the early treatment of severe allergic reactions. In the event of an anaphylactic response to a food allergen, emergency procedure includes administering epinephrine (Epi-pen), calling 911 or call the EMO - 485-6950 - (use phrase like "child can't breathe"), having a familiar and trusted adult accompany the child, and contacting the student's parents or emergency contact person.
 
3. The management of allergies in the classroom will be determined according to the needs of the allergic child. Classroom activities will eliminate a substance that poses a threat to a child in the class. Allergic children will take snacks from their own "stash" during classroom parties.
 
4. The school will establish special procedures for unique situations as required, e.g. field trips, basketball games, cooking or art classes, parties, assemblies and holidays, particularly when outside food is brought in.
 
 
 
CLEANLINESS AND HYGIENE
 
Benches, floors, and especially tables, will be kept clean. The entire cafeteria will be thoroughly cleaned at the end of the day and after any evening or weekend activity.
 
The Garderie (pre-nursery and nursery classrooms and kitchen) is peanut controlled, as passed by the Board of Directors on May 27, 1997, and is subject to this Protocol.
 
The elementary school and the high school have a peanut protocol requesting that peanuts, peanut butter and all products containing peanuts or peanut oil not be brought into the school.
 
 

 
In a letter sent to parents on May 7th, 1999, the directors of Hebrew Academy underline approved additions to the Registration Contract and the adoption of the Allergy Management Protocol, The letter reads:
". . . these [approved additons] focus on
1. Identification of students with allergies and medical conditions,
2. Ensuring that students and families take primary responsibility for the management of these allergies and medical conditions,
3. Sensitizing and educating parents, children and staff to the issues of allergies and their management,
4. Establishing an effective emergency action system in the school.
 
The Board of Directors also adopted a "Peanut Protocol requesting that peanuts, peanut butter, and all products made of peanuts or peanut oil not be brought into the elementary and high school." this will come into effect September 1999.
 
Although all parents complete the Registration Medical form, those whose children have life-threatening allergies must annually complete the attached special forms (accompangied by four photographs of the child). . . "
 

As is noted in the Protocol, the word "request" is used rather than "ban". This is the result of the liability issue arising from instituting peanut control and zoning The following is an excerpt of Board of Directors minutes, April 26th, 1999:
 
 
"The school has an obligation to protect its students. The law, however, does not recognize an allergy to peanuts as a handicap or disability requiring the school to make special accommodation for an allergic student. If the school takes it upon itself to zone or ban peanut use, it raises its own standard of care and increases its exposure to liability. Declaring the school to be peanut free may be construed as a guarantee, and that care should be taken in avoiding language in a resolution which could be interpreted as an absolute representation that a child is safe from exposure to the peanut allergen in the school."
Lazar Sarna, lawyer
 
 
 
The above text is reproduced with permission from Hebrew Academy