Parents at a public school in Edgewater, Florida, are requesting that a first-grade girl, with life-threatening peanut allergies, be expelled from the classroom and home-schooled, rather than other students having to deal with numerous special rules to protect her health.
Spokeswoman for the Volusia County School District, Nancy Wait said “That was one of the suggestions that kept coming forward from parents, to have her home schooled. But we’re required by federal law to provide accommodations. That’s just not even an option for us”.
Wait claims the 6-year-old’s allergy to peanuts is so severe it is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In order to safeguard the young girl, students in her class are forced to wash their hands before entering the classroom in the morning and after lunch they have to rinse out their mouths. Wait said a peanut-sniffing dog checked out the school after a spring break.
A father of two older students at the school, Chris Burr, whose wife has protested at the campus, said a lot of tiny accommodations have added up to frustration for numerous parents. Burr said “If I had a daughter who had a problem, I would not ask everyone else to change their lives to fit my life”.
Peanut allergy, an extreme reaction to food, can cause anaphylactic shock, which if left untreated, may result in death, due to obstruction of the upper or lower airway (bronchospasm), or create hypotension and heart failure. This can take place within minutes of being exposed to, or eating peanuts. Asthmatics with peanut sensitivity are most likely to develop life threatening reactions.
Nearly one hundred people die annually from peanut allergy reaction, which is the most common cause of food-related deaths. However, the cause of peanut allergy is still unknown, but around 11 people every day are diagnosed with the problem, in England alone. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology claim that as many as 1.5 million people suffer from a peanut allergy.
Common beliefs are that anaphylaxis can be started off by smelling the odor of peanuts, simply touching peanuts, or close proximity to peanut products. Many of these beliefs have resulted in controversial bans on all peanut products from entire facilities such as medical facilities and schools.
In his book The Peanut Allergy Answer Book Harvard pediatrician Dr. Michael C. Young writes that while secondary contact could pose a risk to an allergic individual, the rate of a reaction is rare and limited to minor symptoms.