Taking a few hours now will save teachers time and trouble later
Teachers can begin the new school year with a peanut-free policy for their classroom even if their school district does not have a policy in place. Children and their parents are much more likely to cooperate with a peanut-free policy if they understand the dangers of peanut allergy symptoms and how they can affect a child who is allergic to this food.
Don’t wait to see if there is a child in your classroom with an allergy
Some teachers wait each year to see if they have a child on their roster with a peanut allergy. Although it’s great to make the classroom peanut-free for a child in your class, why not plan how you will take steps to accomplish this goal before the new school year begins? You can make
any necessary changes to your classroom supplies before students enter your classroom for the first day of school.
Substitute peanut butter with sunflower seed spread
If you teach younger children and have arts and crafts supplies in your classroom closet or storage area, you may want to substitute sunflower seed spread for that jar of peanut butter that you use to make bird feeders each fall. Unless the peanut butter is locked up, one of the kids could get to it. If it is spread to other areas of the classroom, a child with an allergy to peanuts could touch it. If that child then touches his mouth with his hand, a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis could occur. This is a terrifying and life-threatening allergic reaction.
It’s much safer to not allow peanut products in your classroom to prevent an accident
No teacher would want her class to witness one of their classmates having a serious reaction to peanut butter. And of course, no one wants to see a child with an allergy go through a reaction that could be fatal. You can save everyone a lot of heartache and headache by simply getting rid of all peanut products in your classroom. If you like to snack on peanuts, you may need to do this at home, rather than at school. Teachers can also send a note to parents to ask them to be supportive of the peanut-free policy in their classroom.
State your peanut-free policy in your welcome letter when school starts
If you notify parents that you have a no-peanut policy in your classroom at the beginning of the year, most families will cooperate with your request that they not send peanut butter cookies for a birthday treat. You can also send information about peanut allergies home with each child that you may be able to get for free from a community health center. Ask for the parents’ cooperation, rather than telling them that peanut products are not allowed.
Ask parents to not send peanut butter for their child’s lunch
In some schools, parents cooperate with a request that they not send peanut butter sandwiches for their child’s lunch. There is always a chance that a parent will not want to do this unless there is a district-wide rule against bringing peanuts to school. You can control where children keep their lunches in your classroom and find a way that they are safe. Consider buying a storage chest that locks, and place it in the coat room or storage area for children to place their lunches when they enter in the morning. Then, at lunchtime, simply unlock it and watch to see that each child gets their own lunchbox.