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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Peanut Allergies & Protests

Published April 7, 2011 7:40 PM by Pam Tarapchak

A first-grader at Edgewater Elementary School in Florida has a severe allergy to peanuts. As a nurse, I'm sure you know what that means. When exposed to these nuts, even in a negligible form, her airways could swell and her blood pressure drop. She could have trouble breathing and ultimately may lose consciousness. That's pretty serious.

So, when the school decided to ask classmates to take some extra steps to ensure the safety of the six-year-old girl, it seemed like it would be a non-event to me. The other kids were asked to wash their hands in the morning and after lunch, and rinse their mouths. It seems like it would take just a little bit of time to do something that could help keep the little girl safe, as well as cut down on germs and infections at the same time.

But, the parents of children at the school had different thoughts - ideas they decided to voice in a protest. Their theory: too much time was going to be devoted to washing hands and rinsing mouths that would take away from learning. So, she needed to be removed from the school and educated at home.

Really? That's so disappointing to me. Why are kids without nut allergies more important than ones who do? Does that mean kids with mobility issues shouldn't attend school because they walk more slowly in the halls and may cause classes to start later? Or kids with autism should forget learning in a classroom because they might take some extra time to grasp a concept?

What's even more surprising is that the school has decided to pull back on some of their requirements. No more rinsing of mouths and no restrictions on classroom snacks. So, not only does Johnny not need to rinse his mouth out, but now he can bring peanut butter cookies in for snack.

So now, the students have more time for learning, according to the parents. But, in reality, they could have taught the kids a greater lesson about tolerance and compassion.

1 comments

I agree with you wholeheartedly. There was no cause to remove the child; she was not the problem. And for those parents to be so intolerant is just sickening. What if one day it was THEIR child that had a condition that needed special accommodation?

Amy, acute care services - RN, SNGH April 8, 2011 11:38 AM
Norfolk VA

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