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Glutened At School
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I have two kids in high school who are sensitive to tiny amounts of gluten. Many kids have very full schedules so they are allowed to eat their lunches in the classroom. My kids try to make sure that their desks are free from crumbs before they sit down, but they can never be sure that their spaces are clean. They know to wash hands and not bite fingernails, touch their face etc. Nevertheless, they regularly think that they are getting glutened at school. This seems to be especially difficult when someone eats right next to them. They will move to a new seat when this happens, but by that time it is often too late. Does anyone have any suggestions at how we can handle this?

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I suggest you try a 504 plan that makes the school responsible for wiping classroom tables etc. If you do a web search of celiac 504 there are lots of templates. We have one and while the school isn't perfect about it they do respond if there's a problem.

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If they are that sensitive, I would think the only possible solution is to go to the school to change the "eat where you want" policy. This is a big problem. I would start by addressing the school about this and proceed to a 504 if necessary.

Sorry that this is so tough. I know how hard it can be and we are only in preschool!

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Is the teacher sensitive to your needs , without going thru a 504 plan (which is fine but a lot of work) ?

Can you supply a gluten-free mat to add to the desktop that is for your child onl,y handled and rolled up and stored by your child only ? Can the desk be separated somewhat ? Also I asked the teacher to instruct the kids to wipe their desks top to bottom not side to side to avoid cc issues especially with those close to your childs!!

These things work for us.

good luck

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When we got the 504 plan it wasn't too much work. The nurse suggested it and we had one meeting and came up with a list of five or six things. We had many problems without one and some with one but it's getting better. The main things I really asked for was that the tables are cleaned thoroughly when there is food served in the classroom and that teachers notify us in advance when they plan to use food in the class.

I am not sure which state you live in but most states do have statewide policies and information about this and there are also district policies based on the state one.

This is the one for the state of Massachusetts where we live and all public schools here have policies.

http://www.doe.mass.edu/cnp/allergy.pdf

From this:

Classroom Protocols/Guidelines

• Have all teachers, aides, volunteers, substitutes and students been educated about food allergies?

• Have all parents/guardians of students in the class been notified that there is a student with a life-threatening food allergy and what foods must not be brought to school?

• Are there guidelines for allowable foods for lunch, snacks, parties etc?

• If not, who shall establish these guidelines?

• Is there an allergen free table/desk in the student’s classroom?

• What are the cleaning protocols for this area?

• What type of cleaning solution should be used?

• Is there an understanding that classroom project materials containing the allergen may not be used?

• Have the students been taught proper hand-washing techniques before and after eating?

If it's a private school then it's tougher because they don't have to accommodate a disability.

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Thank you for your replies. In their high school, they have homeroom and 8 periods. They change rooms and teachers for each class. Some classes last for two periods, but many are for one. They can be in up to 9 classrooms in a day. The time between classes is short and there is no time for teachers to wipe desks. There are also many students that might have eaten in a desk before my kids get there. I really don't feel like I can tell the whole school full of students that they can't eat in the classroom so that my kids don't get sick.

I like the idea of a food allergy desk. Maybe making one desk or one corner of the room food free would work. This could also be helpful for other kids with food allergies.

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I hate to say this, but even with a 504 plan and the schools wiping the desks/tables down, your kids will still get glutened. I say this because I do have a 504 plan in place and my daughter gets glutened at least once a week. Thankfully she doesn't get sick, but her sugar drops dramatically so it's still a problem.

Have you seen how the tables are wiped down? In my daughter's school, they use one cloth and a spray bottle. They spray the table with what I hope is a disinfectant, and wipe down the table. Crumbs are indeed left behind - I saw them.

I had to tell my daughter to get a CLEAN tray (one that was not from the top of the pile) from the kitchen to put her food on. Originally she was just using the plastic baggies that her food was in.

I would suggest getting a rubber mat that your kids can use, then roll up and bring home for cleaning. Or, send some wipes to school with their lunch so they can wipe the table/desk down in the area they are in, if it's not in the cafeteria.

In all honesty, if they're not eating in the cafeteria, a 504 plan will not help. It is not the school's responsibility to walk around in front of kids to clean their paths. If a clean cafeteria is provided, that's going to be where the school says your kids need to eat. Remember - reasonable accommodations.

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My son doesn't even eat at school. He would rather not take the contamination risk. My daughter does, but is very careful. They are having problems with other peoples food when they eat right next to them or leave crumbs behind. Kids at that age are not careful with their food. Most have no idea that they might need to be.

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Hi there,

I worry about this because my kiddos are so little--5.5 and we've decided to homeschool this year in part because I'm skeptical about the school's ability to provide a safe environment.

...meanwhile we discovered the fish food for our tropical fish has gluten--who would have thought?! Is there any chance they are feeding pets food that has gluten? We've had to find replacements for: dog food, fish food, koi pond food, chicken feed...I was surprised!

I hope your kiddos are doing better soon!

Thinking of you!

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If it's any consolation, my kids are very sensitive. We already discovered the tropical fish food issue, years ago, and we don't have any other pets. We know it's a school problem due to patterns with vacations, weekends, etc. In middle school the kids ate in the lunchroom and my son ate elsewhere and that worked well. When they had food in the classroom he would go to the library. In high school they eat everywhere and it is really causing problems for my kids.

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That makes so much sense--if the kids are fine at home and vacations, it must be school! We are at the very beginning of our gluten-free path, so I'm anxious to learn from you and others. Please let me/us know what the solution ends up being for your kiddos!

Thinking of you all!

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We ended up doing public charter cyber school. The kids connect to the teachers by livelessons, webmail, and telephone. Public school so all the books/some supples are sent to us through the mail. Postage paid envelopes for some assignments to be turned in other are email documents. We get reimbursement for the internet costs. It is accredited too.

We do enjoy the benefits of a flexible schedule. You can pay for summer school classes. There are "gifted" classes to. (The regular classes are pretty demanding, so that hasn't been an interest for us.) There are 2 internet schools in our state. Connections academy and K12. They do have a tuition based private option too.

The kids have been a lot healthier. :D

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We ended up doing public charter cyber school. The kids connect to the teachers by livelessons, webmail, and telephone. Public school so all the books/some supples are sent to us through the mail. Postage paid envelopes for some assignments to be turned in other are email documents. We get reimbursement for the internet costs. It is accredited too.

We do enjoy the benefits of a flexible schedule. You can pay for summer school classes. There are "gifted" classes to. (The regular classes are pretty demanding, so that hasn't been an interest for us.) There are 2 internet schools in our state. Connections academy and K12. They do have a tuition based private option too.

The kids have been a lot healthier. :D

Thanks for the idea. I hadn't heard of that before. What state do you live in?

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No suggestions, but sympathy. I'm a teacher and I think gluten at school is part of my ongoing issue. I teach 4 and 5 year olds and they eat in the classroom. There are crumbs everywhere, and I get to clean them up. I wish people understood how much of a problem it is. It shouldn't have to be that kids with celiac just can't go to school, or that teachers just have to find a different profession.

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We are in Michigan. Cyber Schools are available in other states. This school has been "open" for 2 years and there is a waiting list. Since it operates as a charter, there is a lottery system. (I think it should be open for health limitations first. just my opinion.) Currently there is a cap on the number of students.

My daughter has Eosinophilic Esophagitus and Celiac.

In some situations it is better for some students to be at home.

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