Q. Why has Tam Valley School become a Nut Alert School?
A. Many schools are becoming nut free, nut aware or nut alert because of potentially lethal allergies. Recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that food allergies among children have increased by over 50% between 1997 and 2011. Food allergies now affect nearly 1 in every 13 U.S. children under the age of 18. Peanut/nut allergies are particularly severe; ingestion of even tiny amounts can cause a severe life threatening reaction. Avoiding the offending allergen is the only way to prevent a potentially lethal allergic reaction. A nut alert school helps create a safer environment for everyone in the Tam Valley School community.
Q. What does Nut Alert mean?
A. Nut alert means you are being asked by the school to consider peanut/nut alternatives for individual student lunches and snacks out of consideration to our children with severe, life threatening allergies. Food brought to share or distribute cannot have any peanut or nut ingredients, including peanut/nut oils or peanut/nut flour. We will also be posting new signage around campus and on our classroom doors to increase awareness and support.
Q. How can it affect another child if my child brings a peanut butter sandwich to school?
A. A child who has eaten or handled foods containing nuts can transfer the allergen containing oils to shared toys, tables, chairs, drinking fountains, playground equipment or even doorknobs.
Q. What is an allergic reaction to peanuts or nuts like?
A. Allergic reaction symptoms include (in general order of severity): vomiting, coughing, fatigue, severe rash, swelling of the face and/or throat, difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness. The more rapidly that symptoms develop, the more severe the reaction. Subsequent exposure to the allergen often causes a more severe and faster reaction.
Q. Some children have dairy allergies. Why is it all right to send dairy products to school?
A. Ordinarily allergies or intolerance to dairy products are not life threatening and are not triggered by ingestion of tiny amounts. Reactions to dairy products may include runny nose, stomachache, diarrhea or eczema, i.e., symptoms that do not require emergency medical intervention. In contrast, allergic reactions to nuts, especially peanuts are often life threatening.
Q. Do you realize that this is inconvenient for me?
A. Yes. If this were not potentially life threatening to some children, we wouldn’t ask you not to send nuts to school. Your efforts are truly appreciated by those affected. Parents who deal with this every time their child puts a bite in their mouth know it is challenging, but it does get easier as you get used to it. We also know it is easy to forget when your family is not directly affected, so we will continue to provide food suggestions, helpful hints and reminders.
Remember: if eating food with nuts, including but not limited to peanut butter, almond butter, and other seed and nut butters for breakfast, be sure to wash hands and face thoroughly with soap and water before coming to school.
THANK YOU for helping to make Tam Valley School a safe and welcome place for all of our children!