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Washing Hands at School

Question of the Week: Answered!

Every week, PeanutAllergy.com answers one of the questions posted in our community.

Our Answer:

Thank you for your questions. Hand-washing is an excellent way to prevent the spread of allergens, especially in the classroom or on the playground.

A study by the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Allergy and Immunology at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, found that washing hands with soap and water was the most effective way to remove peanut residue. You can learn more about the study here.

Other members of our community have asked similar questions. Check out two previous discussions among our members about hand-washing options at school here and here.

It’s great that your daughter will be in a peanut-free classroom, even though the cafeteria will not be peanut-free. You can read about the pros and cons of peanut-free schools and having peanut-free tables in the cafeteria here.

If peanut products are eaten in the cafeteria, the school needs to make sure that the countertops and/or anything else that may have touched peanuts are disinfected and cleaned thoroughly. You can learn the most effective way to eliminate traces of peanuts here.

We asked our Facebook community to offer their advice, and here’s what they had to say.

We hope you find this information helpful and that your daughter stays safe at school. Take care!

Here are my thoughts... I have perspective from both sides... I used to work in a kindergarden class room and had lunch duty everyday. My son has a Peanut allergy ( shellfish too) My best advice is to teach your child to always, always wash her hands before she eats... teach her not to put her fingers in her mouth etc... ( my son was a nail bitter for a while). When was on lunch duty we had a peanut free table for anyone with allergies.. The allergic child got to pick someone who had a peanut free lunch to sit with. That made them feel kid of special. I would keep wipes with me and I looked at everyones lunch. If I saw someone eating PB I would have them go wash their hands before going out for recess. If there wasnt time, I would just hand them a wipe, and ask them to clean up after having PB. It is possible to come on contact with traces from the equipment, that is why is is important that your child learn not to put her fingers in her mouth, eyes and wash up as soon as she come in from recess. Depending on the size of the class and coverage they might be able to ask all kids to wash hands, however they have really limited time to eat and go out and play and it is a project just getting them to settle down and eat and clean up never mind having 30 kids wash hands before recess.. I think it is difficult to accomplish. Good luck.

It is not too much to ask at all. Its the schools job to do everything they can to keep your child safe. My son has a 504 plan and we put all the details in it with the schools administration. Besides having a nut free classroom, he has a nut free table in the lunch room where friends can sit with him (with an approved lunch). The whole class lines up and washes hands with soap and water before they head back to class. They also do this when they arrive at school in the morning before they enter the classroom. He is in 5th grade now and they have done this procedure since Kindergarten. He also only uses the nurses bathroom so he is not using the main bathroom (handles, etc) as the rest of the school. Our school has been more than accommodating, and I hope yours will be also. They dont want anything to happen on their watch and they truly care for my child.

Put it in your 504 plan. You wont have to ask it must be done

My daughter is 19 now and when she was in elementary school she was the only child with a peanut/nut allergy in a large school. Her class would all wash their hands after lunch. The attendance of her class was perfect most days which lead them to realize that hand washing is good for everyones benefit! And, yes, there was always some parent who complained, but mostly saw the supportive, kind side of people. Our children have to navigate in a world where we cant control contact with nuts or allergens, so I sided with the basics and not asking too many favors.

Im 21, I have a twin sister and we both have lived our entire lives with a peanut/nut allergy. Growing up my mom always had meetings with any and all school staff that would come in contact with my sister and I. When it came to lunch time we were given a ""special table"" away from the other students. It had a sign on it that read ""peanut/nut free"". Our classmate would take turns sitting at the table with us. In the end our friends were the main ones who would eat with us. They would just bring peanut free lunches or eat peanut free lunches. Everyone knew they couldnt sit with us if they had anything with nuts.

Good luck
Meagan

My daughters class room grades 1-8 had a purell hand sanitizer/ that dispensed Alcohol gel, the children all washed there hands before returning to the class room. They informed us it killed peanut protein , later investigation said it did not .

On the plus it also helped prevent colds and other diseases, some complaints of hands cracking due to to much washing.

in the high school this has been removed because she now has multiple classrooms. On entering each room my child puts on gloves and with a bleach wipe wipes her work surface i.e desk down before sitting. A cling film sheet also goes over the computer keyboard.the school provides and leaves gloves and wipes in every classroom.
This almost works better as she is responsible and enforced hand washing has its non compliant issues.
this will also help for real life, every door you touch might have been opened by somebody who has just eaten a peanut butter sandwich. A table at mcdonalds could have had peanut on as they serve packets of peanut.
Julian

We had the same arrangement when our daughter was at the same age. And it was in our 504 for washing of hands after lunch from then threw 5th grade. When she went to middle school we did not as at that age they stop having the need to touch everything so we let that one go.

It is NOT too much to ask. At this age they are messy and touch EVRYTHING. Plus it is just good hygiene. They will have less flu and colds.

Good luck.

I would make sure that its added to your 504 plan but in addition to that I would talk to the school administrators and/or your childs teachers to make sure that students wash their hands after lunch. If your childs school is not currently doing that its good that youll be educating them on this as its an important protocol to keep your child safe.

I think its important for kids to wash their hands after lunch and snacks if only the classroom is nut free but the school isnt on the whole. You can add this to your childs 504 plan and talk to the school admins about it. Its almost counterproductive to have a nut free classroom but kids can come back in after lunch with remnants of nuts on their hands which can spread and cause a reaction to PA kids so washing hands is imperative. You can talk to the teacher first and then go to the admins. This way the teacher can line everyone up and make sure everyone washes their hands before walking into the class. Thats what they do in my kids school.