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The Peanut Gallery

posted Oct 3, 2014, 6:19 PM by Laili Komenda   [ updated Oct 9, 2014, 12:08 PM ]

Smith Valley School made an announcement on September 26th, 2014 that we were going 'Peanut Free' in order to do our best to protect some children and a staff member who have serious allergic reactions to casual exposure to peanuts or peanut products.  We are painfully aware that although we are taking these measures to help ensure student/staff safety, there is no way we can guarantee that any location is completely allergen free.  However, we can do everything possible to try to prevent susceptible students or staff to be exposed to peanut allergens.  It is all about education, prevention and awareness!  Also, although schools have various ways of handling a peanut allergy disability, each school is different based on facility size, number of students, etc--so we have done our best to make this unfortunate situation as palatable as possible for all students!

Below is information that has been provided to help Smith Valley School parents/guardians, students and staff understand the procedures we are following in order to implement this as fairly, compassionately and efficiently as we possibly can, and also to inform families about some of the questions & concerns that have been brought to our attention, and to solutions that have been suggested.
Information for Smith Valley School:

...... Coming in next week's newsletter - Sunbutter, an option to Peanut butter.  Some say it is just as good, others don't like it quite as much, and still others don't like it at all.  Smith Valley has been serving Sunbutter on sandwiches as part of our nutrition program as an alternative to peanut butter.  We always have some on hand, and will be happy to add some to an all jam sandwich if you want to send one to school.  We would also be happy to provide you a taste sample if you are interested in trying it.

Allergy Alert - form for teachers to have with substitute notes, lunch room, etc.

Some helpful and educational websites:

Article From:  United States Department of Agriculture:

See end of this 'situation', for a link to full article.
..... Situation 9 page 28:  .....................  
Information in regard to serving children with special needs (disability) in a segregated group:
A school wishes to serve meals to children with disabilities in an area separate from the cafeteria where the majority of school children eat. May the school establish a separate facility for these children? 

Federal civil rights legislation, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, IDEA, and Title II of the ADA, requires that in providing for or arranging for the provision of nonacademic services and extracurricular activities, including meals, school districts must ensure that students with disabilities participate along with children without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of students with disabilities. In general, children with disabilities must be allowed to participate with other children to the maximum extent appropriate. In this way, the child 
has the opportunity to interact with and learn from children without disabilities. The school must not segregate children with disabilities on the basis of convenience to the school or to other children. In rare instances, however, it may be to a child's benefit to be served separately. For instance, a child with severe motor disabilities may be able to receive individualized attention in handling eating utensils if a special education specialist is able to work with them outside the cafeteria. Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that in all cases, the decision to feed children with disabilities separately must always be based on what is appropriate to meet the needs of the children. Schools cannot segregate children with disabilities based on the convenience of the school or other children.
Full article, titled:  

Smith Valley School - Although we would prefer that NO students be segregated to a separate area to eat--without a facility big enough to provide safe separation, and a ventilation system that would help to ensure prevention of casual contact, that is not possible.  We have provided the "Peanut Gallery".  This room is a pleasant place where hands can be washed, students and staff with allergies can avoid, and the table that is used can be properly cleared of potential contaminants. Students going to this room have a choice, where if the segregation were for students with a disability--they would not.  No one, ever has to eat in this room, unless they choose to bring peanut products.  Students who come to the "Peanut Gallery", are hosted with supervision by a teacher.