I feel like I'm free now to update our current situation and how we've decided to handle the The Little Man's Allergic Reaction At School.
Since that reaction, the school has made an effort to improve their allergy policy. Is it perfect? No. But I'm not sure any school can offer perfection. But could it be better? Yes, much. I'm grateful that they put a better policy in place but better doesn't work for me. I need tried and true and I can't make my son and his health be the guinea pig. I'm willing to work with the school to do what we need to do to keep him safe, but I can't be the go to person. I can't be the one to train everyone. I can't be the only one to find all the holes and try to get them filled. I can't be the administrator of the food allergy policy. And I can't be at the school every day to make sure that they are following the plan. I'm a parent. I don't work for the school and I'm also not an expert in food allergies (only a mom who deals with it on a daily basis). I also don't think the plan should only be about my son. I think the plan should cover EVERY food allergy student to enter those school doors. And I do think that the plan should be school wide, not just for my sons classroom.
So although I'm grateful for what we've gained, I see things (lots of things) that aren't working too.
So with a heavy heart, my husband and I decided to move our boys to another school. It's still a Catholic school, but it appears to have a much better (8 page) food allergy policy in place, that everyone is trained on and continually trained on, and it's been in place for several years now.
Is it perfect? No. And I'll still have to tweak things for my son. But I don't have to write and implement the policy by myself. And from what I've seen, I shouldn't have to police it every day. I have a food allergy family that came before us and a school willing to work diligently with that family to thank for having these guidelines already in place.
Finding a private school that had a solid food allergy policy in place was a very difficult thing. We called all the Catholic schools in our area and only one was able to fax us their policy and explain it to us over the phone. Luckily, it's a school that we looked at and toured several months prior to the incident.
Older Boys class has a total of 7 boys this year out of 23 students. And two of those boys are leaving next year (they are transferring to private prep school in our area). That leaves 5 boys in the class. At first we were less than happy with the number of boys in the class. We called this local school to take a tour and to see what they have to offer and what their class sizes are. We really liked this school. We really like the school we are at. 4 weeks later we found out that we are expecting... in August....right before the new school year. We decided that the class size alone wasn't worth the upheaval during this time and we accepted the fact that there were few boys. Our son has friends from other schools in the area and from his sports teams and that would have to be enough for now. But after the allergic reaction, we went into crisis mode and contacted this school again to do extensive research on how they handle food allergies.
We liked what we saw. We liked what we heard. You never really know until you get there, but we prayed hard on this and feel that we are making the best decision for both boys.
Otherwise, I think homeschooling would be the best option and I'm really not sure I can handle that with a new baby, especially since I've never home-schooled before.
We didn't find out until last Friday that they had room for both boys. The Little Man's grade had several openings, but Older Boys class had one possible opening and they had been waiting for someone to confirm if they were coming back or not. So we went in to our current school today to give them the news that the boys weren't returning. It was really hard and I had to force myself not to cry. The principal was sad. The Little Man's current teacher cried. It was so hard, but I think we did the right thing.
The other hard part is telling the parents of the remaining boys in Older Boys class. We are all concerned about the lack of boys in the class and because there are so few boys, our families are pretty close. I know these families aren't happy that our son is leaving. And we aren't happy about letting them down. But they realize the reason that we are leaving them and it isn't to be hurtful to them or the school (at least they are saying they do and I really hope that is the case).
I really pray that we are making the right decision. We really want the boys to have a Catholic education but we also need to make sure that the Little Man is safe. That is paramount to anything else. Our local public school is a good school but it would not be the first choice for my boys for reasons other than education. BUT they could keep the Little Man safe. And we could implement a 504 plan through the public school. After calling around to several sources, that is just not an option at the private schools in our area. And that was a definite negative to the private school education to me. But the school that we are moving to appears to have most things covered. And they are open and willing to do whatever the Little Man needs. I've already met with them to discuss their current plan and our current needs and will do that again before the school year starts.
In case you're wondering why this Catholic school has a plan in place and the other ones don't, it's because the diocese doesn't require our Catholic schools to address this issue (they say that they are a system of schools, not a school system and each school is responsible for their own policies). The new school did that on their own to keep the allergic student (who happens to be in the Little Man's class) safe. They realize that the need is increasing and they were open to addressing it. It's a lot of work and responsibility to put it all in writing, train everyone, and be responsible for it all. Not everyone is willing (or able) to do that yet.
So this is where we are at on the last week of school. It's bittersweet and scary and exciting all at the same time. No one likes change. And NO ONE in this house likes change. So we are all a little stressed out right now (post about stress, food allergies and the Little Man coming soon). So please keep us in your prayers that we've made the right choice and that this will be the right school to keep our son safe.