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Gluten free Teacher Contamination

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Hi there,  I’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease for over 10 years.  I am a preschool teacher. In past I have had very accommodating schools and classrooms that used gluten-free Play-doh and other items of necessary daily use.  I’ve recently been working at a new preschool for almost a year. I just got my symptoms back under control because I was accidentally taking a medication that I had no idea that had wheat in it. 

 They move me to a new classroom which is now a shared classroom for Sunday school and school events.  Both of these use Play-doh constantly in the classroom, they tend to forget to wipe the tables and sweep up after their snacks which  I end up doing every Monday and Thursday. 


 During the five days that I teach in this classroom we use gluten-free Play- doh,  I wear gloves when I help the kids eat, I only use one napkin per table to wipe and throw it away. And I’m very cautious about giving kids hugs and kisses after they’ve ate lunch. 

 My question is, could I be affected because of the remaining Play-doh be on all of the toys ? My symptoms have flared back up and I have been sick ( I get low immune system and catch colds easily when I’ve been contaminated) several times since I’ve been in this new classroom for two months. I’ve taken off over several days in two months.  My boss just recently said that she needs to make sure this is not becoming a pattern.  How should I handle the situation? I’ve mentioned it to them several times how dirty the classroom is left after these events and Sunday school, I’ve mentioned how sick I can get when I’m contaminated.  I’m worried that using a shared space could be the cause of me being ill and making things worse in my own immune system.     Am I being paranoid? Do you think this would also cause the symptoms to come back? Am I covered under ADA because of the days I’ve had to take off? I’ve asked for the people to only use one area for Play-doh ,  and the toys that were used for the Play doh to be put in an area to be cleaned, and for the young people to actually just use gluten-free Play-doh. I have not had any one followup with these requests. 

 Does anyone have any ideas or  recommendations that would help? And I am not going to grammar check this because I am severely ill right now. Please forgive me and my laziness . 


Edited by Fizzgigger

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You keep advocating for yourself, if it gets really obvious make documentation for later. Celiac does fall under the Americans with Disability Act  so they can not fire you for it and have to work with you.

Few tips, try covering the tables with butcher paper and taping it down so you can toss and go. Webstraunt has it in huge 30" and 36" wide 700' commercial rolls.
https://www.webstaurantstore.com/30-x-700-40-white-butcher-paper-roll/43330TAR.htmlI think you can write it off as art supplies since the kids can draw on it. Buy food service gloves by the case and use them like you would in a kitchen always wearing them and washing you hands before eating or putting something in your mouth. They also make keyboard covers if you want some extra precautions.

On the bright side at least they are not throwing flour around and you have to worry about inhaled or airborne CC.

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Not sure you have a leg to stand on regarding the ADA.  I would be concerned about the school following health codes for preschool classrooms.  My daughter attended a cooperative preschool where we had accredited teachers, but the assistants were parents.  We washed a lot of toys and cleaned like crazy.  Check with your state’s codes to see if the school is compliant and have a frank conversation with your supervisor.  You may have to find a new job.  😥


ADA/Celiac Disease:


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For that particular classroom can you pitch all the gluten Play-Doh, and possibly donate your own gluten-free Play-Doh? It might be cheaper to donate your own gluten-free Play-Doh for that classroom use only to ensure your health and safety. 

Another idea trying to coordinate a lesson plan :

Can you make an activity for the kids to make their own gluten-free Play-Doh (homemade recipe)  make it educational for your classroom that then ensures you are safe? Look for diy gluten free play doh recipes online. Present as fun and educational and see if other teacher educator that uses that room would like to do this too. 😉As in no gluten play doh at all. You can present it as a pre school "chemistry" states of matter lesson plan cover solid, liquid, (play doh suspension) , and gas.

Hopefully the Play-Doh toys can be washed in soap and water to be used with the new gluten-free playdoh. Going forward any gifts/gift cards from parents you can use those gift cards or request for your classroom needs to gradually replace all the  gluten-free play doh toys for following year etc. 

Make new gluten-free Play-Doh yearly or bi annual 👍

Can you ask if there is another area to have your class eat snacks ? Or as Ennis said ( I like this idea) cover with butcher paper and wear gloves.

Some districts only allow plain fruit and veggies (no dips) etc as snack in classroom .  This can be due to allergies and or child health obesity concerns depending how a district wants to present it. 

Who provides the snacks ?

One place I worked for a summer, I explained the situation and gave my boss a list of naturally gluten-free processed  snacks  at Costco or Sam's club since the camp provided snack .She did a great job that summer with my list  (except one rice crispy pack had  pretzel and Oreo rice crispy 😲 ) I asked my coworker to serve the kids for me. She had a few designated helpers clean up and all kids washed hands in sink immediately after . Tables were cleaned with soap and water. 

The snacks we did 

They did not do the whole foods but had a fridge/cooler.

Some list ideas I had given her

String cheese


Apple sauce 



Fruit snacks

Rice crispy plain only ( plain as I neglected to realize they had speciality  rice crispy Oreo and pretzel. and my boss didn't know this is where my coworker covered snacks solo and I dispensed lemonade drinks solo )

So depending on the variables and how approachable your boss is if you go in with as much of the problem solved ( on your end/ idea) you are more likely in my opinion to get this solved quickly.

Hope some of this info helps . Feel better soon.

Good luck



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OH to cover the Gluten-Free Play Dough my local celiac group just posted this, https://www.discountschoolsupply.com/arts-crafts/dough-clay/dough-foam-dough/colorations-wheat-gluten-free-dough---5-1-2-lbs-/p/7566?fbclid=IwAR23TszmyM5iljb9eAVzNUWTzPN-eb_kw5R6hlM5ez2M56Ny0Oa3zkvLckM

BTW  you might advocate for a allergen free room for kids concerns and go with stuff like Sunbutter, and Fruit and look at places like Mygerbs or Enjoy Life Foods  for snacks and keep dried safe fruits (natures candy) in stock for use.

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