How Far Would You Go to Protect a Kid with Food Allergies?

Peanut allergies have become so commonplace that I’d never even dream of sending my daughters out into the world with a PB&J. But the new policies at an Edgewater, FL, elementary school -- subjecting all students to a twice-daily hand and mouth wash to protect a peanut-allergic first grader, as Reuters recently reported -- seem excessive by any standard.

And this is coming from a mom whose preschooler is allergic to three of the most common foods on the planet: wheat, eggs and dairy.

While I’m fortunate that my daughter’s allergies aren’t as bad as this girl’s (according to the article, "the 6-year-old's peanut allergy is so severe it is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act"), I don’t expect the school to offer much in the way of protection beyond not actively feeding her something that she isn’t allowed to have. I supply a daily snack for her, find out what’s being served for birthday parties and other celebrations and bring in a safer alternative for her, and even make my own gluten-free play dough for the whole class to use.

I can even agree to banning common allergens, like peanuts, from classrooms or whole schools -- and I’ve been safely supplying nut-free snacks and lunches to my kids for more than five years now (adding yet another wrinkle to my “what the heck do I serve you for lunch?” quandaries). But I think that’s as far as I would be willing to accommodate -- and about as far as I’d be willing to expect other parents to accommodate. If my daughter’s allergies were so severe that it required the rest of the kids to get twice-daily scrub downs, I'd make alternate arrangements. In my opinion, that’s a bit too much to ask of the rest of the student body and their families.

Don't get me wrong; I feel for this girl and her family, but maybe sending her to this school isn’t the safest or best choice, considering the level of anger her attendance is causing -- and the constant fear that someone may show up to school with a trace of peanut butter on his fingers. That isn’t a gamble I’d want to take with my own child.

What about you -- would you be willing to make accommodations for a severely allergic student in your kid's school? Would you want your severely allergic student in a public school? See what our iVillage community members are saying about this hot-button issue, as well as Kelly Wallace's take on it in iVillage 5.

You can also check out this recent segment from the Today show

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