Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crocker Farm Winter Coat and Clothing Share -- Collection Starts 11/7

Upcoming: Crocker Farm's winter coat & clothing share.  Our annual clothing collection starts next week.  Now is a great time to go through closets & find coats/jackets, snowpants, boots, mittens, scarfs, & hats that your family has outgrown or you no longer need. Please drop off clean items in good condition in the collection box in the CF lobby starting Nov 7th (parent-teacher conference day) through Nov 19th. All sizes (kids & adults) wanted.

Collected clothes will be available for the taking Wed Nov 20th (8:30am-3:30pm) & Thurs Nov 21st (8:30am-7:00pm). All school & community families are welcome to come during these hours & pickup what they need. 
This year, Crocker Farm is working together with other ARPS schools to share warm winter clothes among as many students and families as possible.  For example, Wildwood & Fort River will each be collecting & distributing warm winter clothes too. Look for a flyer in backpacks soon with more details on the other collection & distribution sites & dates.  
Thank you!

FREE Dental Care for Income-Eligible Crocker Farm Students -- Jan 9th

The ARPS Family Center is partnering with the Mobile Dentists to provide FREE dental care to families in the Amherst, Pelham and Regional Public Schools. The Mobile Dentists are innovative, on-site dental outreach providers. Their mission is to bring state-of-the-art dental care to income-eligible students in the most comfortable and effective way possible. The ARPS Family Center will mail the Mobile Dentist forms to income-eligible families. Once parents/guardians complete and return the forms to school, appointments will be made based on the dental services needed by the students. Please direct ALL questions to the ARPS Family Center 413-362-1875 or mortonad@arps.org.
The Mobile Dentists will visit schools on the following dates:
Dec 3 Wildwood
Jan 7 ARHS & SE Campus
Jan 8 Pelham
Jan 9 Crocker Farm
Jan 16 Fort River
Jan 17 ARMS 

Kimberly Stender
Community, Partnerships & Volunteers
Office of the Superintendent

Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools
170 Chestnut Street
Amherst, MA 01002

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Boy Scouts Troop 500 Amherst Open House

Boy Scouts Troop 500 Amherst Open House for prospective scouts (grades 5-12; ages 11-17) and their families Tuesday, Nov. 5 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM at the South Congregational Church, 1066 South East Street, Amherst.



Troop activities are organized and run by the boys, including weekly meetings, monthly camp-outs, and projects in the community.  Our Scouts learn practical outdoor skills and develop leadership skills while having a lot of fun.   Troop 500 does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or sexual preference. 

For more information, contact Scoutmaster Michelle Chandler at (413) 256-5412.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Update on the New Nut/Peanut Allergy Guidelines

letter from the Superintendent

THE AMHERST, PELHAM & AMHERST-PELHAM REGIONAL
PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Serving Amherst, Pelham and the Amherst-Pelham Region

October 23, 2013
Dear Parent/Guardians:

As previously announced, the districts’ new allergy aware guidelines will take effect on Monday, October 28, 2013.  This information is intended to answer the most frequently asked questions that have been posed about the guidelines, as well as to provide helpful information to support families at this time of transition.

  • Is this a ban on nuts or just a request not to bring nuts into the schools?
The new guidelines hold an expectation that no student or staff member will bring a food item containing nuts or nut products into the schools.  This change of practice is designed to help protect the safety and wellbeing of students who have life threatening allergies to nuts.  Although we cannot guarantee that there will never be nuts in the schools, we will maintain the expectation of “no nuts” in order to enhance the safety of our students. 

  • Will there be disciplinary consequences imposed on those who do not abide by the guidelines?

The allergy aware guidelines will be implemented and addressed in an educational manner, not as a disciplinary matter.  As we all adjust to this new practice, if a staff member sees that a student has a food item that contains nuts, s/he will instruct the student to put the food item back into their bag. A food service lunch that meets any dietary restrictions of the student will then be provided for that day.  The student’s parent/guardian will be called to remind them about the new guidelines and to have their child refrain from bringing in food products with nuts.   On Monday and Tuesday, October 28 and 29, we will have assemblies for students from kindergarten through eighth grade on the topic of food allergies featuring Kyle Dine.  Last year, Mr. Dine presented at Fort River School and the response was positive.      

  • What if my child has a specific medical condition which will be complicated by this change of practice?

As with all individual medical issues, we encourage you to contact the school nurse to discuss this and, when needed, an individual plan will be developed.

  • Can children with food allergies become less vigilant about their safety when this practice is put into place?  

It is extremely important for all students who have nut allergies to continue to practice their individual safety measures.  These measures are important life lessons for them and will continue to be necessary in school as well as in all other areas of the community. 

Understanding that this change in practice will be a challenging shift for some, the district has gathered information that we hope families will find helpful. Several parents have also offered suggestions for us to share. 
  • High protein substitutions for some popular nut product foods can be found at http://www.peanutfreeplanet.com/Peanut_Butter_Alternatives_Substitutes_s/129.htm.
  • An updated list of safe snacks is available in the school offices and can be accessed on our website (www.arps.org) or at http://snacksafely.com/snacklist.pdf.   This site includes peanut butter substitutions as well as high protein energy bars and snacks.
  • Parents have shared information about Sunbutter and Wowbutter products, as well as Avalanche high protein energy bars, which are a nut-free (http://www.avalanchebars.com/nutfreebars.html )  
  • The District contacted local grocery stores about our change of practice and has been notified by Big Y that they will be offering a sale price of $2.00 off each 16 ounce jar of three different varieties of Sunbutter from October 3, 2013 through November 27, 2013.  This is a wonderful example of how fortunate we are to have community partners to work with us in this and many other endeavors. 

As additional information or suggestions become available, we will continue to share them in an effort to help everyone find options that will allow children to continue healthy eating habits while abiding by the new guidelines.

I recognize that this is a major shift in practice and appreciate your cooperation.  Our students’ safety is a top priority, and with the continuing rise in the prevalence of life-threatening nut allergies this is an important guideline to implement.  Many thanks for your partnership in these efforts.

Sincerely,
Maria Geryk, Superintendent of Schools

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pies from Small Ones Farm & Grandma Miller's Pies

Crocker Farm Apple Pie Fundraiser

Handmade in Vermont
 
 Two varieties – apple crumb and traditional 2-crust
The traditional crust variety happens to be vegan!!!
Frozen and unbaked – ready to bake when you need it!
 
$15 for a 9-inch pie

Over 25% of the proceeds will be donated to the CROCKER FARM PGO.

 “….The pies will be ready in time for Thanksgiving.  They also make wonderful gifts, and are great to bring to a potluck or when you need a quick dessert for a special occasion meal.  Stock up now!”

Small Ones Farm is a family-owned, 63-acre orchard and vegetable farm in South Amherst, MA.  They use earth- and people-friendly growing practices to produce a variety of fruits and other products (www.SmallOnesFarm.com).  They sell apple, berry and pumpkin pies using their own fruits/pumpkins. 

Grandma Miller’s Pies and Pastries – a family-owned bakery in South Londonderry, VT – makes pies, pastries, cakes, muffins and breads.  Their baked goods are sold in fine restaurants and specialty stores in the Northeast (www.GrandmaMillers.com).  They make the pies by hand using Small Ones Farm fruit.
 

To order:  Please return order form and payment (cash or check made out to Crocker Farm PGO by Mon, Oct 28th).   
 
Pies will be ready for pickup Fri 11/8, 2-6 pm, or Sat, 11/9, 9am - 1pm
 
Extra order forms & and a copy of the flyer are available here:  (link)
 
 

 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Happy Valley Children's Chorus Nov 2nd

Happy Valley Children's Chorus concert, Nov. 2nd, 10:30 AM
at First Congregational Church of Amherst, 165 Main Street. 
 
Children K-5th grade sing and sign and dance through the music!
Come enjoy songs of friendship and love for the Earth. Free!

Contact: Dorothy Cresswell, 413-323-9383, dcresswell@charter.net
 
(not a school or PGO-sponsored event)

Crocker Farm Harvest Fest This Fri

Hope to see you there!




School 1:20pm dismissal before Thankgiving

On Wednesday, Nov 27th, the Amherst schools' early dismissal will be at 1:20 pm, as it has been traditionally. The early dismissal time for parent-teacher conferences on 11/7 and 11/12 is now noon.  School will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thurs (11/28) and Fri (11/29).  

Lost & Found Bin - Crocker Farm

The Crocker Farm Lost and Found Bin is full of jackets, sweatshirts, lunchboxes, books, balls, and more (picture from yesterday below).   If anything of your child's came to school recently and never made it home, you may want to stop by and take a look.  Lost and Found items will also be placed out on tables outside the cafeteria soon.   



Monday, October 21, 2013

Coffee this Friday!

(Click this image to enlarge.)

Box Top Collection Week -- Send them in!


Please gather up your Box Tops for Education and send them in or drop them off this week.  They can put in the collection box in the lobby or in the PGO mailbox in the office. 

Box Tops are collected year-round, though time to time we have special collection weeks to encourage everyone to send them in so that the PGO can then redeem them.  The money raised from Box Tops goes to buy school supplies and equipment, and some years, we've raised up to $500 or more.   Every little bit helps!

Here's a useful link if you'd like to more about know more about the Box Top program and which food and household items include Box Tops. (link)

We are now also collecting Labels for Education UPC codes.  Labels for Education are found on Campbell's, Pop Secret, Post, V8, Pepperidge Farm, BIC, Glad products and more.  A full list of the Labels for Education participating products is found here (link).

Thank you!
 

Events this Week for Crocker Farm & ARPS

Crocker Farm
Mon, 10/21-Thurs 10/24:  Barnes & Noble Fundraiser continues online (link, Bookfair ID: 11213154 )
Wed, 10/23:  Savings Makes Cents, 8:30 a.m., Crocker Farm lobby

Thurs, 10/24:  ARPS Latino Heritage Night (link)

Fri, 10/25:  Coffee with the Crocker Farm Principal, 8:45 am, Community Room
Fri, 10/25:  Fall Harvest Fest, 4:30-6 pm, outside near the Crocker Farm gardens (link)
Fri, 10/25:  Deadline for Box Tops collection, drop them off in the lobby or the office

Mon, 10/28:  Deadline for submitting orders for Small Ones Apple Pies


ARPS
Tues 10/22: Joint Meeting Amherst, Pelham, and Regional School Committees, 7 pm, ARMS (link)
Sun, 10/27:  Roger Wallace Excellence in Teaching Award Benefit Dinner, 5 pm, Amherst College (link)

Mon, 10/28:  New District Nut and Peanut guidelines take effect,  all schools


Coming Up
Thurs, 11/7:  Parent Teacher Conferences, noon dismissal
Tues, 11/11:  Parent Teacher Conferences, noon dismissal
11/11-11/19:  Crocker Farm Winter coat & clothing drive, collection boxes in lobby
11/20-11/21:  Winter clothing distribution (tentative; hours still tbd)


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Crocker Farm Barnes & Noble Fundraiser Continues Online through Wed 10/23

Many thanks to our great story readers and to everyone else who came out and supported yesterday's Barnes & Noble fundraiser for Crocker Farm, and to those volunteers and others who helped behind the scenes, including Justyne Ogdahl, the event's coordinator.   Way to go!  

This fundraiser isn't over yet. You can shop online at B&N (link) through Thurs, Oct 24th and still earn credit for our school. Please use bookfair code 11213154 when checking out, and please share this link & the code with anyone else who might be interested. 

All money raised will go to support art and science programs at Crocker Farm.   Thank you for your support!

Roger L. Wallace Excellence in Teaching Award - Benefit Dinner Oct 27th

The Roger L. Wallace Excellence in Teaching Award Committee
cordially invites you to attend a benefit dinner to honor

Inaugural Award Recipient Kathryn Runyan

Ms. Runyan’s Address:  
Engineering opportunities in STEM:  Exposing, encouraging, and exciting all learners.
 

Donations support the award’s endowment
Tickets $75.00

Sunday, October 27, 2013, 5:00pm
Amherst College, Valentine Hall

All inquiries can be directed to Wallace.teaching.Award@gmail.com

Amherst Education Foundation Trivia Bee Night

Come enjoy the 19th Annual Trivia Bee
Thursday October 24th, 2012 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Amherst Middle School Auditorium. 
Doors open at 6:30pm for a fun evening that includes over 100 players in costumes, raffle prizes (UMass Basketball and Hockey tickets, Fine Arts Center tickets and more) plus refreshments, an audience trivia game and prizes. Admission is free with donations benefiting Amherst area public schools.





Saturday, October 19, 2013

UMass Men Soccer Team Clinic for Amherst K-8 Soccer Players this Sun

Free Player's Clinic for Amherst Youth Soccer
 
Sunday October 20, 2013
10:30am until 3:30pm
 

 
UMass Men's Soccer is hosting a FREE soccer clinic for the K-8 Amherst Youth Soccer Association The kids are invited to stay and watch UMass soccer take on URI.

The event kicks off at 10:30AM with training by UMass Soccer staff and some players.

Schedule for the day:
10:30AM-12PM - Training
12PM-1PM - Lunch*
1PM-3:15PM UMass vs. URI
3:15PM-3:30 - Meet & Greet/Autograph Session with UMass players

*Players can either bring their own lunch, or buy from the UMass Dining BabyBerk Food Truck.





Friday, October 18, 2013

The PGO's letter in today's Crocker Chronicles

Crocker Chronicles was emailed out to families today.
The full Crocker Chronicles is also available for download here.

                                                                                              October 2013

Dear Crocker Farm Families,

We hope you are all enjoying this beautiful fall season and your children are having a great school year.  Crocker Farm has some wonderful events so far this year, including the Back to School Picnic, School Picture Day, and last week’s Open House. 

The PGO is planning more events soon, including:
·         Sat, Oct 19th.  Crocker Farm Reads, a fundraiser at the Hadley Barnes & Noble.  There will be story readings in the morning by Principal Tesauro, Art Teacher Diane Travis, Amilcar Shabazz, and Becca Greene Van-Horn, and all day, if patrons mention Crocker Farm when checking out at the register, a percentage of their purchase will go to support art and science programs at Crocker Farm.
·         Friday, Oct 25th, 4:30-6 pm.  The 2nd Annual Crocker Farm Fall Harvest Fest.  Come celebrate the fall season and our wonderful Crocker Farm garden. We’ll have live music, yummy food, and craft projects for kids.  Please join us! 
·         Friday, Oct 25th, 8:45 am.  Coffee with the Principal.
·         Monday, Oct 28th.  Order forms due in the Crocker Farm office for the pie fundraiser through Small Ones Farm.  Order pies for the upcoming holidays and a portion of the proceeds will go to Crocker Farm.  Pies can be picked up Nov 8th and 9th at Small Ones Farm (416 Bay Road).
·         Friday, Nov 15th, 8:45 am.  Coffee with the Principal.
·         Nov 12th-19th.  Collection for our winter coat and clothing drive.  Look for collection boxes in the school lobby.  Last year we gave away more than 100 winter coats, plus boots, mittens, and more.
·         Nov 20th-21st.  Distribution of collected winter coats and clothing.

The Crocker Farm PGO maintains a blog at www.crockerfarmpgo.blogspot.com, to post all the latest news on PGO and school events, and community events of interest.  If you subscribe to the blog, you’ll get a daily email containing the newest posts.  The PGO is also on Facebook (Crocker Farm PGO). 

All Crocker Farm families are automatically part of the Crocker Farm PGO.  Many of the PGO’s events and activities would not be possible without family volunteers.  Thank you to everyone who has volunteered already for this year.  If you would still like to volunteer but have not yet signed up, you can access the signup form here (tinyurl.com/luxbugc) or email us at CrockerFarmPGO@gmail.com.  Volunteering even an hour or two can make a big difference. 

Throughout each year, one of the PGO’s main activities is to raise funds for school equipment, and special events and projects.  We have active fundraisers, such as at Barnes & Noble this Saturday, and passive fundraisers, such as the Stop & Shop A+ Rewards (www.stopandshop.com/aplus; Crocker Farm ID: 05194) and Target’s Take Charge of Education (https://www-secure.target.com/redcard/tcoe/home, Crocker ID: 58644) programs.  With all passive fundraisers, participating customers earn money for our school with each purchase.  If you shop at these stores, please consider signing up.  Please consider too our other passive fundraisers, such as Big Y Education Express (Crocker ID: 5946), sending in Box Tops, and buying Crocker Java from Dean’s Beans (order forms in the office/on our blog (link)).   Every little bit helps!

Thank you.  We are looking forward to a great year together.

2013-14 PGO Executive Board
Justyne Ogdahl, president; Tracy Zafian; Erica Boerman

Harvest Fest -- New Date (10/25)


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Crocker Farm Reads Event & Bookfair at Hadley Barnes & Noble this Sat

A percentage of your purchases at the Hadley Barnes & Noble on Oct 19th will benefit arts and science programs at Crocker Farm if you mention "Crocker Farm" when checking out.

Story readings will be conducted by Amilcar Shabazz, Becca Greene-Van Horn, and Derek Shea.  Other readings and activities for kids are being planned as well.

At 3 pm, the Hadley Barnes & Noble is also featuring a discussion and signing by UMass professors Max Page and Marla Miller for their new book, The Campus Guide: University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and hosting a LEGO architecture event and contest.


The PGO is still seeking volunteers to help with this event.  You can signup here: (link)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Crocker Farm Reads/Book Fair at Barnes & Noble 10/19

Next Saturday
 
Sat Oct 19th
Crocker Farm Reads/Book Fair Day
at the Hadley Barnes & Noble

We'll have activities & story readings for children led by Crocker Farm staff & parents.  Fliers of the schedule will go out to all families soon. 

On the 19th, each time a B&N patron mentions "Crocker Farm" while checking out at the register, our school will earn a % of the sale.  This money will go towards special art and science projects at our school. 

Hope to see everyone there!  

Also, we're seeking volunteers for the 19th to distribute Crocker Farm School Reads bookmarks and help promote this fundraiser.  The volunteer signup is here (link).  Thank you.  


Latino Heritage Night - Oct 24th @ Crocker Farm



LSSE Halloween Events



(Not a school or PGO-sponsored event)

Fire Dept SAFE Pancake Breakfast - Oct 20th

The Amherst Fire Department will hold a Pancake Breakfast to benefit the SAFE (Student Awareness of Fire Education) program in our schools. 

Donations of $6 adult and $4 children are suggested. Breakfast will take place on Sunday, October 20th, from 7:30am to 11:30am at the North Fire Station, 603 East Pleasant Street. Breakfast includes pancakes w/ maple syrup, sausages, bacon, juice and coffee.


For more information on the SAFE Program, click on this link (www.amherstfirefighters.org/safe/)



(Not a school or PGO sponsored event)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Food Allergy Policy Update

 from the Superintendent (sent to all families via email):

You may have already received a letter regarding the District’s implementation of allergy aware schools guidelines which respectfully requests that family and staff refrain from bringing nuts or nut products into the schools. In response to feedback from families and community members, we will delay implementation until Monday, October 28. This will allow families additional time to make adjustments in their menu planning as we make this essential change to support the safety of students who have life-threatening allergies. This date also coincides with the first of four student assemblies featuring Kyle Dine, food allergy educator and musician, which will enhance students’ understanding of the impact of food allergies. We appreciate your understanding and support.

Maria Geryk, Superintendent

Usted a lo mejor ya recibió una carta en referencia de la implementación de pautas alrededor de las escuelas que son consientes de alergias, en las cuales respetuosamente se les pide a las familias y al personal que por favor se abstengan de traer productos de nueces adentro de las escuelas. En respuesta a la reacción de familias y miembros de la comunidad demoraremos en implementar este cambio hasta Lunes, el 28 de Octubre. Esto le dará tiempo adicional a las familias para que hagan ajustes mientras planean su menu, mientras hacemos cambios esenciales para apoyar la seguridad de nuestros estudiantes que tienen alergias fatales. Esta fecha también coincida con la primera de cuatro asambleas que presentara a Kyle Dine, educador de alergias alimenticias y músico, que mejoraran el entendimiento de nuestros estudiantes acerca del impacto de alergias alimenticias. Nosotros Apreciamos su entendimiento y apoyo.

Superintendente Maria Geryk

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Parent Nominees for the School Governance Council

Nine parents have submitted papers to be considered for the four (4) parent/guardian spaces on the Crocker Farm School Governance Council (SGC).   The SGC is headed by the Crocker Farm Principal, Dr. Tesauro, and includes parent/guardians, teachers, and community members.   The SGC helps develop the School Improvement Plan and reviews the annual school budget.

The election for the parent/guardian spaces on the SGC will be held at Crocker Farm's Open House tomorrow evening.

The nominees are:
MARLA JAMATE
EVA FAIRCHILD
VIRA DOUANGMANY CAGE
SARAH GOFF
BECKY DEMLING
NARAYAN SAMPATH
TRACY ZAFIAN
JENNIFER HOTCHKISS KAPLAN
DEMETRIA ROUGEAUX SHABAZZ
 
 

You can read the nominees' statements of interest at this link.
THANK YOU to all the nominees for their interest in serving the Crocker Farm community in this way.


Getting Un-Stuck: A Course in Conflict Resolution



Summer Read-A-Thon Pledges & Party

The party for summer Read-a-Thon participants is coming up in the next few weeks (date/time tbd). If your family hasn't turned in your summer Read-a-Thon pledges to Ms. McQuaid yet, please do so asap. 

Ms. McQuaid can help find sponsors for any child who still needs them; email her at mcquaids@arps.org.
Thank you!   All raised Read-A-Thon money will go to buy new books and materials for the Crocker Farm library. 

Gazette article on ban on nuts in all the APRS schools


The Daily Hampshire Gazette printed this article in today's newspaper and yesterday online at its web site, regarding the new school district policy banning nuts and peanuts from all schools.  
http://www.gazettenet.com/news/schools/8841351-95/amherst-schools-to-ban-nuts-starting-oct-15

The district will be sending out information to the families about the policy soon.


Amherst schools to ban nuts starting Oct 15
Daily Hampshire Gazette
10/9/2013

By DEBRA SCHERBAN

AMHERST — Starting Oct. 15, after the long holiday weekend, nuts will be banned from Amherst schools.

Peanuts, walnuts, almonds and all other tree nuts and products that contain them, that is. That means no more peanut butter on school grounds before, during and after school.

School officials say the reason is to protect students who are highly allergic to those foods and could face life-threatening reactions if they are exposed to them — even through contact with those who have touched the products, or by breathing in fumes when foods containing nuts are cooking.

“We made the decision based on safety and not wanting to take a risk,” said Faye Brady, director of student services and chairwoman of the school district’s wellness committee. “We know from the literature that peanut allergy is one the most common food allergies and the reaction is potentially fatal.”
Superintendent Maria Geryk said about 100 students throughout the schools in the district are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts.

“We’ve talked about this for years,” she said. “It’s like locking the school doors. It will be an adjustment, but it will be fine. It will make life easier for those who are sending their children to us with these allergies.”
Amherst is not alone in taking such action.

The Hampshire Regional School District bans nuts and nut products, too. The district has had a ban on nuts at selected schools where students with peanut allergies are enrolled, but this year extended that systemwide, said health coordinator Mary Phelan.

“We always seem to have a couple of kids who are sensitive, and now we have more than a couple of students who are extremely sensitive,” including at the high school now, which has its first allergic students enrolled this year. She did not have the number of students.


Northampton and Easthampton schools follow peanut-safe protocols, such as providing peanut-free tables in the cafeterias for students with allergies and zeroing in on specific classrooms where students with allergies spend their time.

“We have procedure for making sure kids are safe, but don’t necessarily discourage all those products in a general way,” said Karen Jarvis-Vance, director of health and safety for the Northampton schools. For example, she said, letters would go home to classmates of allergic students asking that families not send nut products to school with their children. Schools with allergic children also have separate tables in the lunchroom and surfaces are thoroughly cleaned, she said.

Similar accommodations are made in the Easthampton schools, said Superintendent Nancy Follansbee.

In Northampton schools, according to Jarvis-Vance, 169 students have food allergies of some sort, although the data are not broken down by foods. None of the cafeterias in the schools serve peanuts or cook with peanut products.
“We try to keep it as least restrictive as possible while keeping the students safe,” Jarvis-Vance said.

Allergy study

Brady said Amherst’s wellness committee started out last year looking to standardize the health and safety guidelines for all its schools. A subcommittee chaired by a nurse and made up of parents, teachers, administrators was asked to look into life-threatening allergies. She said the subcommittee came to the conclusion that nut allergies were the most common dangerous conditions among children in the schools.

She said that mirrors national statistics provided by the nonprofit group Food Allergy Research and Education, based in McLean, Va. That organization, which works on behalf of Americans with food allergies, says its studies have shown that the number of children with peanut allergies tripled between 1997 and 2008 for reasons that have not been determined.

The organization warns that peanuts can trigger a severe, potentially fatal reaction in those who are sensitive to them and therefore those individuals should have access to an epinephrine auto-injector. According to the nonprofit’s website, 25 to 40 percent of those who have peanut allergies are also allergic to tree nuts, which can spur the same deadly reaction.
For that reason, and the high degree of sensitivity of those allergic to others who have come in contact with, say, a peanut butter sandwich, the subcommittee decided it was best to keep the foods out of the schools completely, Brady said.

“We’re not guaranteeing that there will never be a nut product brought in,” she said. “We don’t have the ability to make that guarantee, but we are requesting that all staff, students and families not bring nuts or foods processed with nuts into the schools.”

She said isolating nut-sensitive students at separate tables in the cafeteria would not be consistent with the schools’ commitment to inclusion. “We don’t want to have students who have any type of disabling condition put in separate places,” she said.

Principals and teachers have informed parents at the open houses held at the beginning of the school year that the change is coming, and letters and guidelines and a sheet with frequently asked questions will be sent to families later this week, she said.

There are also presentations scheduled for later this month by Canadian performer Kyle Dine, who suffers from multiple food allergies and travels around the United States giving entertaining presentations to educate children. Last year he was at Fort River School and this month he will be at Pelham, Wildwood and Crocker Farm elementary schools as well as the middle school.

“This is an educationally relevant topic,” Brady said. “We don’t want to just say you can’t do this — we want people to understand why.”

Brady said that so far she has not received negative feedback from families, just questions.

One of those is, “My child eats a peanut butter sandwich every day at lunch. What am I doing to do?”

“Certainly, it will be a change of practice for that child,” Brady said. “But when we explain this is for safety reasons and not wanting to have any child encounter what can be a life-threatening reaction, people understand. We are fortunate to have a very caring community.”