How Far Should a School Go to Accommodate for Kids’ Allergies?

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I don’t know how many of you have been following this peanut allergy story in Florida, but here’s the lowdown. A 6-year-old girl at an elementary school in Edgewater had a peanut allergy so severe that she would have a reaction if she were to breathe traces of nut dust in the air. Her school took certain measures to accommodate her, but many parents became outraged by the lengths the school went to for the girl.

Some of these measures included regularly wiping down desks with Clorox wipes, asking students to rinse out their mouths and wash their hands in the morning and after lunch, and banning peanut products in the classroom.

While these measures may seem extreme to some, the school is legally obligated to take these safety precautions because of the Federal Disabilities Act, according to Nancy Wait, the spokeswoman for Volusia County Schools.

"It would be the same thing as putting a handicap ramp for a student that is physically disabled. The only difference with this is that is affects other students," Wait told FoxNews.com.

Upon learning of these new requirements, a group of enraged parents protested outside the school holding signs that helped express their frustration, such as "What’s next? Where does this end?" These parents believe that the new requirements are taking up to 30 minutes out of their children’s school day. Furthermore, many asked the district to require that the girl with the peanut allergy be home-schooled.

The girl and her family are deeply hurt and feel victimized. "We’ve fought very hard to put certain things in place to keep her alive in school," David Bailey, the father of the student with the allergy, told My Fox Orlando. "She’s already a cast-out. She can’t do most things kids can do."

The prevalence of kids’ allergies has risen 18% in the past 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As more and more children are diagnosed with allergies, more schools must figure out how to appropriately accommodate the students who require special treatment. But, this can sometimes come at the cost of inconveniencing other students. Thus, an important debate arises – just how far should a school go to protect a student with a food allergy?

While some experts feel it’s necessary to do everything humanly possible to protect a child from a potentially life-threatening reaction, other medical experts think doctors are over-diagnosing food allergies in the first place. Either way, schools are often obligated to err on the side of safety in order to protect themselves from a major lawsuit.

We’d love to hear your opinion on the matter. Do you think this Florida school went too far? Or, did these parents overreact? How should schools deal with food allergies?

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