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How far is too far in protecting students with peanut allergies?

Published: Wednesday, March 23 2011 2:27 p.m. MDT

Earlier this week, parents at an elementary school in Florida were so upset about policies put in place to protect a first-grade girl at the school with severe peanut allergies that they feel the child should be home-schooled rather than have their students adhere to these policies, according to MSNBC.

Some of these policies introduced last year include that students in the class must wash their hands before coming into the classroom in the morning and wash their face and hands after lunch, according to parentdish.com. Teachers also must regularly wipe down desks with Clorox wipes, parentdish reported.

But News 13 reported this month that it seems that peanut allergies may be on the rise or that perhaps doctors are getting better at detecting it.

One high school freshman in Phoenix is now in a coma after accidentally eating cereal with peanut in it, reported myFOXpheonix this week.

In Chicago, a family of a seventh-grader decided last week to sue a Chinese restaurant that provided a meal for a school party last year that was not supposed to contain nuts, reported the Chicago Tribune. The seventh-grader died after an allergic reaction.

Many schools all over the country have converted to peanut-free schools, including ones in Utah. Granite School District doesn't allow nut products at its cafeteria tables and a school in Park City went nut-free a little over a year ago, according to the Deseret News.

But this has caused a debate among parents and researchers.

Time reported that the fear of peanuts may be getting out of control and said one bus in Massachusetts was evacuated a couple years ago after a peanut was found rolling around on the ground.

MSNBC did a survey accompanying its story earlier this week on the school accommodating the 6-year-old with severe peanut allergies. Out of about 82,000 voters, 51 percent said an allergy that severe is too disruptive for the rest of the class while just 25 percent said that federal law requires that she be allowed to go to school (24 percent wanted some kind of compromise).

Yet a parent of a 6-year-old with peanut allergies wrote into Allergizer saying that people who complain about peanut-free schools don't understand how terrible the reactions can be.

"It is this kind of ignorance that keeps the parents of children with allergies up at night," he wrote. "Children with peanut allergies experience anaphylactic reactions, which include, but are not limited to, uncontrolled vomiting, swelling in the face, neck and throat, and closing of air passages. They can stop breathing. They can die."

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