Just to bring you up to speed in case you missed my last post (and I’ll try to give you the condensed version)- First day of school: no “nut-free classroom” signs. I went home and printed some out. Several days went by and they were nowhere to be seen. Stella’s teacher and I sat down with the principal to talk about why my signs had yet to be hung up. There was hesitation because the wording on my signs said nut free rather than nut safe. I pointed out our 504 plan states it’s a nut-free classroom and the term “nut safe” may be confusing to some parents. Principal agreed and gave me the green light- and my signs were hung up that day. Then last week we notice mine were taken down and new nut safe classroom signs were hung in their place!! No communication. No explanation. One would hope that someone would have the decency to communicate with me why my signs were suddenly not ok. Nada. I sent a polite letter expressing my concerns to the principal and superintendent early Friday morning. Monday has now come and gone and no response from the administration at the school. I’m feeling frustrated. Coupled with the many missteps the school took last year in handling food allergy safety I feel as if I’m at my wit’s end. This shouldn’t be this hard.
Anyway, this brings me to tonight’s back to school topic: what food allergy parents really want from a school. What do we want, you ask? Let me tell you.
We want a clear and concise plan for every school. We want a school to welcome in a child with a food allergy and be able to say to them “Oh, you have a food allergy? Let me guide you in what we will do to ensure that you are safe at our school…” And then do just that.
We want safe plans to already be in place. No fumbling around or making up new rules as we go. I understand this might be new to some schools. This is why we need a clear cut protocol across the board for every school. Let’s make it easy on schools for the parents and the child’s sake.
Food allergy education for parents, students and staff. This is serious stuff. Schools need to treat it as so. Food allergies are a disability.
We want to be offered a 504 plan and be honored one if we feel it is necessary.
We want a safe place for our children to learn. This means banning foods that contain allergens that could potentially harm our children in their classroom. This means creating a safe environment for them to eat, and making that environment consistently safe every single day- whether it’s raining, there’s a substitute or they’re on a field trip. Don’t leave it up to the parents to feel like they are nagging and nit-picking every single detail to keep their kids safe- we want you, the school to have done that for us.
We want to trust the school that they are doing everything in their power to keep our kids safe. We want our concerns to be at the top of your priority list.
We want you to have empathy and compassion. It’s hard enough raising a child with food allergies in our own home. We want you to recognize our difficulties and work hard to ease our worries when they are away from us.
We want to have clear and open communication about any concerns we may have. We want our concerns to be taken seriously. We want to be heard.
We want our child to be included. We want teachers to notify us ahead of time if there is anything involving food. We don’t want our child to get something different or be treated different every time there is a birthday or project that has food.
Bottomline: we want our child to be safe, to have a good education and to be included. We want to feel supported in our concerns and not feel like those “annoying nut parents.”
What would you add to the list?