According to the Cherokee School District, the number of American children affected by peanut allergies appears to be increasing.
A study last year reported that the prevalence of peanut/tree nut allergies in the United States doubled from 1997 to 2002, and this has become an issue for the students of the Cherokee Community Schools. Who did the study has not been identified by the school.
Roosevelt Elementary will be implementing a "Peanut Safe Environment" for the current (2010-11) school year. According to Roosevelt Principal Barb Radke, this is being done in the best interests of all students. Roosevelt and the entire Cherokee District will not be serving any peanut butter or peanut/tree nut products through its food service programs.
Students will still be able to bring "cold lunches" that may contain peanut products, but they will be asked to sit at a "peanut/tree nut table" in the lunchroom, so that students who have allergic reactions to peanut/tree nut products will be protected.
Those mainstream students confined to the "peanut/tree nut table" will be allowed to invite friends to sit with them, said Radke, who, after questioning, later explained that the special table will now be called the "cold lunch table."
When students leave the lunchroom, they will need to wash their hands each day. All tables in classrooms and in the lunchroom will be cleaned after lunch, snacks and special occasions.
Teachers in the classrooms are now required to inspect cold lunch packs and help students read labels to ensure that their cold lunches from home are "peanut free." All snacks and treats brought into the school by parents will also be required to be "peanut free" at all grade levels.
To ensure the safety of all students, students who have this type of allergy will have designated seats on the school's buses, and "Peanut Safe Environment" signs will be posted throughout the building.
The school nurse will notify staff members of the students who have an allergy to peanuts/tree nuts, and instruct the staff on the procedures which should be followed in case a student has a medical problem.
Parents will also be a part of these procedures, and they will be notified of any and all issues dealing with allergic reactions.
Radke said there were nine students "that we know of" in K-4 who have peanut allergies and indicated that such a large a number precipitated the action.
Radke said she was told that peanut allergies have risen 120-percent since Year 2000 and that the medical community has yet to identify the reasons.
She said the District's Food Service also is exploring possible soy substitutes for certain peanut products.