Food allergies are a complicated issue that school districts must take very seriously, and a peanut-free classroom is a relatively simple solution. As a parent of a child with several serious food allergies, I have a lot of experience in this department.

 Food allergies can cause very serious life-threatening symptoms in a matter of seconds. Usually this kind of reaction is the result of ingesting a food allergen, but some people will have life-threatening reactions with only skin contact or airborne exposure to an allergen. Fortunately, my child only has severe reactions to ingestion, but I can sympathize with parents who manage a child's food allergy.

When my family lived in Grand Forks, our elementary school was completely peanut-free because one of the students there was susceptible to life-threatening reactions with merely airborne exposure to peanuts. This may seem like an extreme accommodation, but the only alternative is home-schooling because the threat is real. On multiple occasions my food allergic child has arrived home from school and with one sniff accurately detected in five seconds that I consumed peanut butter or eggs for lunch three hours earlier. An airborne reactive student may not survive such exposure.

While a peanut butter and jelly sandwich may seem like a standard element of a school lunch, there are known alternatives. And while a peanut free classroom may seem like an overbearing intrusion of government in our lives, we should keep in mind the Apostle Paul's words when he wrote, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." A person's preference for a peanut butter sandwich needs to be held in tension with another's life-threatening reaction to peanut exposure. I'm heavily biased in favor of people with life-threatening reactions.

 For clarification, a peanut-free classroom is not isolating all the peanut allergic kids of various ages into one room. It is an entire regular classroom deferring to the peanut sensitivity of a student and refraining from bringing any peanut contaminated food into the room. This is the only reasonable accommodation for elementary students who react to skin contact with peanuts. The alternative is to expect that an entire classroom of kindergarteners or first graders will wash their hands immediately after touching peanut contaminated foods before touching any other surface. Every. Single. Time. Pretty unrealistic.

 A peanut-free classroom policy warrants strong immediate consideration.

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