Are you afraid of Back to School?!

I just read the article from Today's Parent:  Are Schools Doing Enough?

My comments below the article:As an allergy mom I request the following accommodations from my child’s school that I think are reasonable and fair…

1. Supervision while eating.

Did you know that many schools in Peel region have one adult supervising 4-6 classrooms over the lunch hour. This means children are left unsupervised for the majority of the lunch hour. As a teacher with the board, I personally witnessed children vomiting, standing on tables and running around when teachers were not present. It is not safe for any young child not just those with life threatening food allergies to be unsupervised while eating.

2. Proper cleaning.

I requested that the desks and chairs be properly wiped and floors swept after the children eat -they eat 3 times per day in the classroom -lunch and 2 snack times. I was told that it is NOT the teacher’s job nor the custodians to clean up after the children eat and that if I want this done i would have to come in myself and do it. Which I did for the beginning of the school year. I quickly realized this was not reasonable or reliable as I had to work or could fall ill and that someone in the school needed to be responsible for this. The decision made was to have the children clean up after themselves with wipes. I am not happy with this decision but it is better than nothing. I have seen cheese spread into the carpets following a food fight in the class room (back to the lack of supervision) and my daughter has to sit on that carpet during circle time with her life-threatening dairy allergy.

3. Safe arts and craft materials

-allergens can be hidden in arts and craft materials and sometimes recycled food containers are used. I asked to be notified so that i can read the ingredients and ensure craft materials are safe.

4. Handwashing

-I requested that children wash their hands after eating to help prevent the risk of cross-contamination. This is very difficult for the school to do however as there are just so many children and some classrooms do not have sinks. This year the children are going to use wipes to wipe their hands. I hope this will be effective.

5. Non-food treats or Safe treats.

– I advocate for non-food treats -pencilgrams (where children can purchase a pencil and write a note to be sent to a friend -good fundraiser), books donated in honour of birthdays etc. This promotes literacy too! On the special occasions and holidays where the school would like a food treat given to children I request:
a) An opportunity to recommend a safe treat for all children in the school that is a food item that comes packaged with ingredient label
b) If a) is not possible, the opportunity to be notified in advance so that I can send a comparable safe treat for my allergic child and other allergic children possibly
I do not understand why schools want to give children homemade treats anyway? There is no quality control, no ingredients listed and you have no idea what the safety or contents are of that treat! I also feel that children have access to a lot of treats and most families are trying to encourage healthy choices. Let’s have celebrations with fruit! When I was teaching, I would read the story “Stone Soup” to the children and we would have vegetable soup to celebrate.

Everyone loves treats and I’m not saying there isn’t a time and a place for them. I also ask parents of non-allergic children to try and imagine one of 2 scenarios:

1. Your child being the only one who doesn’t get the treat. The whole point of treats is to bring happiness and smiles to the children. A 6 year old child being the only one not getting a cupcake is just sad :(

2. Your snack causing the death of another child. We saw the recent allergy death of a 13 year old girl (Natalie Giorgio) this summer from eating a bite of a rice krispie square. My heart breaks for her family and for the family that made the treats. It is heartbreaking that food that is perfectly safe and enjoyable for some can kill others. The rate of allergies has risen from 1-2 % of our population in the early part of this decade to 7.5%!!! These allergies are becoming more and more prevalant! I ask you to imagine if it was your child who all of a sudden was deathly allergic to milk. It is terrifying to send your child to school with yogurt, milk, pizza with cheese and their life-threatening allergen everywhere. Try to put yourself in that mom’s shoes. Thank you!!!!!

What do you think?

What do you request from your child's school as far as accommodations to keep your child safe?  In the United States there are 504 plans for these kids which recognizes their allergies as disabilities.  I have been trying to advocate for these here in Canada but without success.  The schools and Ministry are not recognizing Anaphylaxis as a disability.  What could be more disabling than the risk of death caused by food that is all around you every day?!    For my child with a life-threatening dairy allergy, the milk, pizza, cheese, and yogurt that her classmates bring to school is a poison.  It is terrifying for her and us to imagine what would happen if she accidentally ingested milk or had a reaction from touching contaminated supplies or furniture.


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Click here to buy and enter the discount code “Melissa” (that’s me!) for 25% off and free shipping on the site. 

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In our society we are often reactive rather than proactive -this means we wait for things to get bad before we do something about them.  This is why we are more likely to buy medicine than vitamins for example.  While air filters aren't exciting or fun they certainly do have a huge impact on your health!

August 26th:  Severe Allergy & Anaphylaxis Support Group Meeting in Oakville, ON.

The meetings are intended to provide emotional support to individuals and families.  Upcoming topics include:
Aug. 26th:  Back to School & Handling the Emotional Trauma of Allergy Deaths (Natalie Giorgio)
Sept. 30th:  Back to School (How has the first month gone?!) & Marriage -The impact of food allergies on a marriage
Oct. 28th:  Hallowe'en Safety for Food Allergies & Community Relationships (Advocating and educating for empathy in your local community)
Nov. 25:  Holiday Season -Handling the holiday stress, parties, and social events with food allergies & Extended Family Relationships (Emotional Support for the stress on extended family relationships when dealing with life-threatening food allergies)

Email me @ to RSVP.


  1. With regards to fears of going back to school, the sad truth is that no matter how much you advocate for the school to protect your child from life-threatening allergic reactions, they will never demonstrate the same level of vigilance that you, the parent, would. I have had recess peanut butter cups sent home in my 4 yro child's backpack!

    We are starting our ninth year of homeschooling, and the joys of this journey have completely taken me by surprise. We can enjoy our lives without living in constant fear or annoyance at having to constantly argue with the school. What a relief! Homeschooling is not possible for everyone, but if anyone has a reason to consider it, it would be the family of a severely-allergic child. The child is still educated on their allergy and avoids stigma and low self-esteem that results from being the only one not allowed to eat the yummy cupcake that kids are given almost every other day! You may not agree with my recommendation to consider homeschooling, but that doesn't matter. I feel it's important to remind others of an excellent option that is completely legal and brings such unexpected joy to a family!

  2. I appreciate you sharing your experiences with home schooling and informing others of this option! Thank you! :)


You're awesome! Thanks for sharing your comment!