Talking Allergies

My long and complicated history with the school.
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Author:  FamilyNature [ Mon May 18, 2009 8:13 am ]
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I was thinking about getting him an e-belt and putting an epipen trainer in it at first (before school starts, while I still carry the real thing).

The baby is 18m, I guess I should start calling her toddler, but yes, I am at home for the forseeable future.


Author:  FamilyNature [ Mon May 25, 2009 9:16 am ]
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Okay, here’s an update: I submitted Shannon’s registration paperwork last week. The next day I saw the principal in the schoolyard and she asked me to call her. Here is how that went:

She will not be able to guarantee that Shannon will always have adult supervision as she eluded to earlier (in her cryptic way she told me previously that she was working on it and she thought that she’d be able to do it). The principal also told me that the Board and Anaphylaxis Canada (I guess she called them?) did not think adult supervision at all times was necessary. She reiterated to me that allergies do not qualify a student for an EA (I had hoped that an EA could supervise Shannon during recess).

She will not know who Shannon’s teacher until next month, but it is subject to change up until the start of school in September. She does not want to meet with me again until the week before school starts. She says there would be no point since the teacher could change, and that even if the teacher didn’t change there is no way the teacher would be able to remember everything over the summer. I asked if this would be enough time to sort out the details and she said yes. I don’t agree.

I asked if we could involve the public health nurse (who I coincidentally met the day before, and who told me that she’s helped schools come up with individual anaphylaxis plans before – she gave me her card and I’m going to email her) and the principal said “If you want to we can do that” but what I think she really meant was “well it’s totally not necessary but if you really, really want to we can, you crazy lady”

I think the principal believes that the School Plan is simply the Board's Guidelines (the purpose of the guidelines is for each school to develop their own plan) and the Individual Plan is just the emergency plan. I have asked to see a copy of the School Plan so we’ll see what she comes up with.

My husband and I have talked at length about what to do and for various reasons that are too complicated and would take me too long for me to explain, we really need to try to make things work at this school. (Although in the end, if I do not feel this school is not safe for Shannon, he will not attend. Period.)



Author:  _Susan_ [ Mon May 25, 2009 4:43 pm ]
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By all means sign him up! Send an e-mail to the principal requesting a meeting before school starts and outline you agenda in the note.

The school should have experience by now with both school plans and individual plans to it should not take much tweaking to alter to to suit your son's needs. A week should be enough.

Having a plan B means that you will not be desperate and that you'll be able to focus on the issues.

Author:  FamilyNature [ Tue May 26, 2009 9:13 am ]
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The principal responded and said that the school did not have a plan nor are they required to have a school plan.

I'm so confused.

(also see my question about Sabrina's Law and Board policy)


Author:  _Susan_ [ Tue May 26, 2009 9:48 am ]
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Oh my! :roll:

Advise him/her that legislation has been in place in Ontario for the past 3 1/2 years ... ionID=38:1

By law the school board is obligated to:

Establishment of policy
2. (1) Every board shall establish and maintain an anaphylactic policy in accordance with this section.
Contents of anaphylactic policy
(2) The anaphylactic policy shall include the following:
1. Strategies that reduce the risk of exposure to anaphylactic causative agents in classrooms and common school areas.
2. A communication plan for the dissemination of information on life-threatening allergies to parents, pupils and employees.
3. Regular training on dealing with life-threatening allergies for all employees and others who are in direct contact with pupils on a regular basis.

and by law the principal is obligated to:
4. A requirement that every school principal develop an individual plan for each pupil who has an anaphylactic allergy.
5. A requirement that every school principal ensure that, upon registration, parents, guardians and pupils shall be asked to supply information on life-threatening allergies.
6. A requirement that every school principal maintain a file for each anaphylactic pupil of current treatment and other information, including a copy of any prescriptions and instructions from the pupil's physician or nurse and a current emergency contact list.
Contents of individual plan
(3) An individual plan for a pupil with an anaphylactic allergy shall be consistent with the board's policy and shall include:
1. Details informing employees and others who are in direct contact with the pupil on a regular basis of the type of allergy, monitoring and avoidance strategies and appropriate treatment.
2. A readily accessible emergency procedure for the pupil, including emergency contact information.
3. Storage for epinephrine auto-injectors, where necessary.

I would suggest that you send an e-mail to this effect ias a reply to the principal and cc it to the superintendent so they get a copy of the principals admission that he/she has been non-compliant for the past 3 1/2 years!

Author:  walooet [ Tue May 26, 2009 9:50 pm ]
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If there are meetings wtih the teacher before school starts that is when every family should be given information about what NOT to bring to school.

I have seen students show up the first day with the allergen simply because they were not told ahead.

Author:  allergy gal [ Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:54 am ]
Post subject:  Some information

First off sorry for the lengthy post.

For any school to take the nonchalant approach to this or any other life threatening condition is unbelievable. I work in a school.

At the beginning of the school year all students with any type of medical condition life threatening or not are identified.
Student’s pictures and a brief description of their condition are posted on a bulletin board in the staff room for all staff to see. We keep juice and other sugar items in the office in case of an emergency with a diabetic student. (We have numerous diabetic students and even one teacher). Now for anaphylactic students – (we have numerous anaphylactic students and one teacher and also the principal).

Step one – we have a special yellow 8 ½ X 14 card that has to be filled out by a doctor. The card outlines the type of symptoms that may occur. It has a spot for a picture to be attached, a spot for emergency contact numbers including the doctor, and a spot to indicate where the student’s epi-pen is kept. It also includes a section on an action plan. What steps to take should a particular student suffer an anaphylactic allergy?

Step two – all staff are trained on how to administer an epi-pen.

Step three – all students are required to provide the school with an additional epi-pen. In primary/elementary the teacher keeps the epi-pen(s) in their desk. For junior/senior high schools, the epi-pen(s) is usually stored in the office. It is important to ensure that each epi-pen is clearly labelled with the students name on it. Not just the case but the epi-pen itself.

Step four – for students taking the bus to and from school, the bus driver is provided with a card with the student’s picture on it, student’s information, emergency contact information, and medical information including what the student is allergic to and where the student’s epi-pen is stored. (All bus drivers are also trained on how to administer an epi-pen.)

Step five – we also have a special field trip form for students with anaphylactic allergies. This form must be completed before any student can participate in a school field trip.

Step six – we have created allergy alert signs and posted them at every entrance to our school. These signs indicated that we are a scent free school due to allergies and also that certain foods are not permitted due to life threatening allergies.

One other important thing that we do at school is to make sure that we take the epi-pens with us during any evacuation of the school. We can preach to the students how important it is to carry their epi-pen on them at all times but the reality is that they don’t always do this. This way if we have a student who is anaphylactic to bee/wasp stings for example and we are outside due to an evacuation of the school and they get stung, we have a back up epi-pen in case they are not carrying theirs.

For the start of the 2009-2010 school year, we have purchased an epi-pen carrying case. Only $39.99 plus tax. It can hold up to eight epi-pens. It also has eight cards. Each card allows you to attach a picture and include other important information. (to view the case we purchased)

I hope that this information is helpful.

Author:  lparpart [ Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:52 pm ]
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So many issues to reply to here, so little time before picking up my DD (who is ana to dairy -- category 6 out of 6 on the ige test, off the charts allergic...and less so to peanuts, tree nuts and egg)

one small point about hand washing in the classroom: when my dd entered first grade last september we encountered a lot of resistance from the school on this issue. our teacher was new to the system, and although she supported handwashing after each recess and lunch (three times a day, plus first thing in the morning) as a way to keep the classroom really allergen-free, her mentor (a fellow teacher) complained to the administration that he thought this was taking too long. he said it was taking 45 minutes out of the day, which was wrong, but anyway, the flag was raised, the principal got involved, and we were basically ordered to come up with a quicker alternative. I opposed the use of hand sanitizers because of a study that showed they don't actually remove allergens. so we wound up buying baby wipes for the first six months of the school year, and the kids used them four times a day: first thing in the a.m., right after morning recess, after lunch/recess, and after afternoon recess. it was quick but VERY expensive -- they went through them like wildfire. So at the end of the year we finally had a brainstorm and I want to share it with everyone who has faced this issue. We scrapped the store-bought wipes and made our own using TDSB (school board) issued free paper towels and a solution of soap, water, and a tiny bit of hand sanitizer. We put the whole thing in a big tupperware and made it our responsibility to check that it was always well-stocked. It saved us about $100 just in the last few months of the school year. some parents complained lightly about all the hand-washing, but more appreciated it, and everyong thinks there may have been fewer illnesses in our daughter's class.

When our DD was in SK, her teacher implemented a veggies-and-fruit only snack, and policed it rigorously. by october everyone was on board, and some kids who had never eaten a veggie were eating them at home! this worked so well that other SK classes adopted it and kept the policy going even without severely allergic students in class.

our school kept me out of the epipen training too. i lost that battle. not sure why this should be such a big deal, but I guess there's perceived pressure.

I fought harder to get supply teachers trained in the use of hte epi, and finally won! It was a happy day in our household when the principal said she was instituting a new rule that all incoming supply teachers had to check in and sign a form indicating whether they had epi training in the past year. the school began to use only previously trained supply teachers in my daughter's classroom. in the one or two cases when a trained supply teacher was unavailable, the principle took the time to train the supply teacher in the morning before class. this was very difficult for her since she had a lot of other stuff going on, but after many discussions she finally understood the importance of this. all it takes is for one supply teacher not to know what he or she is doing, and a family can have a tragedy on their hands.

so you win some and you lose some, or at least you delay some battles.

I really wish you luck as you enter the system and continue to negotiate your way through the minefields...please send me a private message if you would like to discuss this further.

all the best,

Author:  FamilyNature [ Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:17 pm ]
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Lee! I met you several years ago at your school's funfair and again at a TAEG meeting. At the time we exchanged email addresses but mine has since changed. I was thinking about you recently and wishing that I'd kept in touch! I will email you in the next couple of days.

Updating this thread: the pricipal has agreed to do an individual plan for my son but remains adamant that the school is not required to have, nor does any other TCDSB school have, an Anaphylaxis Policy. She gave me the contact info for someone at the TCDSB to further clarify.

Long story short, I've been trying to get clarification on the TCDSB's policy for the last 10 weeks -- many many emails, most of which were utterly ignored (I'd be happy to share these with anyone who is interested). My email was forwarded to various people in the board, most of whom ignored me. I sent one final email expressing my frustration and telling them I'd follow up with the Ministry of Education and again my email was ignored. My emails were extremely polite and nicely worded.

I forwarded all my emails to the Ministry of Education and told them that the TCDSB refused to answer my questions about Sabrina's Law and their anaphylaxis policy, and that I thougth they might be non-compliant with Sabrina's Law. Just yesterday I received an email from the Ministry of Education's Public Inquiries Office asking me to call them so that they could discuss this with me. I'm looking forward to hearing what they have to say.

In the meantime, has anyone ever dealt with the M of Ed's Public Inquiries Office? What might I expect?

Thanks for all those who have been following along and to those who have responded. I will keep you posted.


Author:  _Susan_ [ Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:43 pm ]
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I've contacted them once in the past I think I spoke to an Education Officer . He was pleasant and explained that they acted basically as a liason between the school board and parents.

I fully expect that they will assist you as this should tie in nicely with their Ontario Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy

Ontario is taking important steps forward to reduce discrimination and embrace diversity in our schools to improve overall student achievement and reduce achievement gaps.

The Ontario Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy was launched in April 2009. All members of the school community are to be treated with respect and dignity. The strategy is helping educators across the province better identify and remove discriminatory biases and systemic barriers to student achievement. These barriers — related to racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination — may prevent some students from reaching their full potential. The strategy supports the government's key education priorities of high student achievement, reduced gaps in student achievement and increased accountability and public confidence in Ontario's publicly funded schools.

Students in our publicly funded education system – regardless of background or personal circumstances – must be given every opportunity to reach their full potential. Research shows that when students feel welcomed and accepted in their school, they are more likely to succeed academically. We want to create a culture of high expectations where factors such as race, gender and socio-economic status do not prevent students from achieving ambitious outcomes.


Author:  FamilyNature [ Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:40 pm ]
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I've spoken a couple of times to the person handling my case at the M of Ed. He seems very nice and seems to understand very well what my questions are. He has also said that he thinks my questions are very reasonable and is baffled as to why the TCDSB has not responded.

Funny enough, someone from the TCDSB emailed me the same day with a simple sentence: "We will be reviewing our Anaphylaxis policy and procedures this year and any changes and/or additions will be included on our website in the policy register." Which I think is the lamest response ever!! So, I guess I'm just expected to keep checking the website?!

I've completely given up with the TCDSB at the moment and am waiting to see what the M of Ed. can find out. We'll see what happens.


Author:  _Susan_ [ Wed Aug 26, 2009 12:05 pm ]
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I'm glad you were able to get the M of Ed to look into this for you!

I looked on the TCDSB website and saw this:
It is the policy of TCDSB to create allergen-aware environments in our schools and workplaces. In order to protect the health and safety of our students and staff, the TCDSB will develop Regulations and Administrative Procedures which will comply with Sabrina’s Law, 2005, S.O. 2005, Chapter 7.

And specifcally regulations:

4. A requirement that every school principal develop an individual plan for each student who has an anaphylactic allergy.

5. A requirement that every school principal maintain a file for each anaphylactic pupil of
current treatment and other information, including a copy of any prescriptions and instructions from the pupil’s physician or nurse and a current emergency contact list.

Let's hope the Ministry of Education is able to get through to them.

Author:  FamilyNature [ Wed Aug 26, 2009 1:41 pm ]
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Thanks Susan. You seem to have such good knowledge about all the different school boards!

Just to clarify, my issue with the TCDSB's policy is this: they seem to do well with the individual plans, it is the general anaphylaxis policy that I want to see. Specifically, the strategies to reduce the risk and the communication plan (as required by Sabrina's Law). The TCDSB has an anaphylaxis "Policy/Protocol & Guidelines" which is a long document of helpful suggestions and guidelines but no real policy. They also have an anaphylaxis "Policy" which is essentially an almost word-for-word copy of Sabrina's Law -- again, not a policy.

A policy is a set of rules, it is actionable items, not a list of 'guidelines' which an individual school may or may not follow. This is what I've been asking the TCDSB about and this is what they have utterly refused to answer - -hence the need to get the M of Ed involved.

I'll update again soon!

Author:  BC2007 [ Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:56 am ]
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Family Nature... How did your first day of school go? Good luck and best of luck with a new school year!!

Author:  FamilyNature [ Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:39 am ]
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School doesn't start for us for one more week and then it is a staggered start for JKs so it will likely be a couple of weeks still.

I'm still waiting to hear from the principal about Shannon's individual plan (which she insisted didn't need to be started until September). Plus there was some disagreement (between the principal and me) about which JK class would be more suitable (not entirely related to allergies).

I have to email the principal today to see what is going on.

I heard again from the Ministry of Education's Public Inquiries Office. They have been trying to reach the school board on my bahalf for, oh a couple of weeks, I guess. The M of Ed has not been able to get an answer from the Board either, so we're still waiting. In the response I got from the Board a couple of weeks ago they said they're looking into their policy.

So the M of Ed said that they were not going to let this go, that my questions are valid, that they will help me until I get a satisfactory answer AND that the Board is going to have to adjust their policy so that it has all the components required by Sabrina's Law. Yay! A small victory for me (that the M of Ed has agreed with me that the Board's policy does not contain everything requuired by Sabrina's Law). They say we have to give the Board a reasonable amount of time to work on the policy. Still the fact that the Board has all but ignored both me AND the M of ED is baffling! The only response they have given is one line in an email to me that said they were working on the Anaphylaxis Policy.

Anyway, as frustrating as this has all been I have to say that I'm cautiously optimistic that the policy will be updated. Despite the fact that the Board has been HORRIBLE to deal with and that it has taken so long, I'll be happy in the end if they rethink their policy.


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