Some people think that peanut-free schools are unconstitutional.

A student from a suburb in Southwest Chicago was taken to the hospital in November of 2013. The 8-year-old girl had a peanut allergy reaction when a classmate opened a bag of peanuts and peanut dust went into the air. When she breathed in the peanut dust, she developed a reaction that required emergency treatment by paramedics. Her father then demanded that the school become peanut-free and threatened to take his daughter out of the school and place her in another school within the district that was peanut-free. Districts all over the United States have some peanut-free schools.

Teachers in Peanut-Free Classrooms Need to Be Diligent

The girl’s school already had peanut-free lunch tables as well as peanut-free classrooms. Although the 8-year-old was in a peanut-free classroom, one of her classmates brought a pack of peanuts to school for a snack. The teacher had been checking snacks to be sure that they were peanut-free since the beginning of school, but apparently missed this snack. The principal of the school said that the school needs “total compliancy across the board.”

This particular school was mostly supportive of a peanut-free policy, whereas some schools in the country take few precautions to ensure the safety of children with a peanut allergy. Fortunately, the school nurse had an EpiPen available for the girl which was used immediately, and paramedics administered additional medication to her before taking her to the hospital.

Parents of Non-allergic Children May Not Understand

Some parents who do not have a child with a peanut allergy do not understand how dangerous it can be for a child with this allergy to be anywhere near peanuts. The parents may have eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their own childhood, and they expect it to be allowable for their child. Most of them do not understand that anaphylaxis can potentially lead to death. Public education is the only way to overcome the resentment that many parents face when they need to
protect their child while she is at school.

A Big Question about Peanut-Free Schools

The big concern that is often discussed regarding peanut-free schools is the chance that everyone tends to get comfortable and complacent in a peanut-free environment. Teachers and others believe that everyone is collaborating together to make sure that peanuts are not going to reach the student with the peanut allergy. However, there are so many variables that cannot be controlled. The boy who opened the peanut package in the peanut-free classroom may have been given the snack by another child on the school bus, or a grandparent or babysitter may have packed the child’s lunch. There is always the chance that a child with a peanut allergy accidentally comes in contact with this allergen. Every child with a peanut allergy needs to have epinephrine available for immediate use if this happens.

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