Florida Elementary School Goes Peanut-Free Despite Protests

A Florida elementary school has decided to continue with its tough regulations aimed at making the school safer for children suffering from food allergies despite angry parents protesting. Edgewater Elementary instituted the new peanut allergy regulations to protect a first grader who suffers from a severe allergy to peanuts.

Students at the school must now wash their hands, as well as rinsing their mouth, before coming to class each morning and after eating their lunch. Teachers monitor the daily rituals as well as wiping down the desks with Clorox wipes. All peanut products are banned from the school buildings, and no outside food is allowed for snacks or at classroom parties. Last week, a peanut-sniffing dog was even brought to the school to make sure that no traces of peanut remained.

District spokeswoman Nancy Wait said that the school must legally take these precautions in order to follow the Federal Disabilities Act. “It would be the same thing as putting a handicap ramp for a student that is physically disabled. The only difference with this is that is affects other students,” she told Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/03/15/amid-protest-florida-school-stands-...).

Some parents, however, say it takes away from valuable classroom time. Parent Carrie Starkey says "On average, it’s probably taking a good 30 minutes out of the day. That’s my child’s education." She and other parents recently protested outside the school building with signs reading "Our Kids Have Rights Too."

Some experts also agree with this group, saying that the regulations go too far and ignore the possibility that there are easier ways to protect the child. Dr. Scott Fischer with the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) says "There are plenty of relatively simple things the school could put in place that aren’t burdensome."

On the other hand, David Bailey, whose daughter is the Edgewater Elementary student with the severe peanut allergy, says that while the school's actions may seem drastic to some, if his daughter even smells peanuts she could suffer a fatal allergic reaction.

What do you think? How far should schools go to protect those with peanut allergies?

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