A public school in Florida is making all its first-grade pupils rinse out their mouths and wash their hands before coming into class and after lunch - because one child has a severe peanut allergy.Yes, this is litigation-barmy America, to be fair.
Teachers must continually wipe down desks with Clorox wipes, children cannot bring in outside food for parties and a peanut-sniffing dog has even been brought into the school grounds.This is taking at least 30 minutes estimated time out of the teachers study periods per day, and this – and the restrictions on their own children – has brought things to a head with other parents:
Angry parents protested against the strict measures outside the gates of Edgewater Elementary School, Florida, last week. They are designed to protect one six-year-old girl, who has not been named.It’s quite a dilemma.
They claim their children are losing time in class and are having their faces wiped with Clorox. One mother even said the rules - which also ban all peanut products - were intruding on her child's right to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.OK, there’s no ‘right’ to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The protest broke out into a shouting match between two of them mothers, one of whom said her eight-year-old son also has a peanut allergy.Well, should they?
Shannon Layshock told My Fox Orlando: 'If he gets one touch of peanut oil, peanut butter, peanut anything, he's dead in an instant, and you're going to worry about a Clorox wipe that's not even allowed to be used on a child's face.
'It's embarrassing. You all should be ashamed of yourselves.'
We are, after all, used to the practice of inclusion and adjustment for disabilities, and we accept them, whether out of pure compassion or practicality.
We’ve got used to ramps, hearing loops, dropped curbs, etc. But those are all ‘passive’. They require nothing from the able bodied, and in some cases, they make life easier for the able-bodied too.
There’s the money issue, of course, and some will resent taxpayer money being spent on disability support and such, though they seem to assume that they will never need it themselves.
But there’s a world of difference between those issues and this one, where it is indeed impinging on others’ freedoms.
And for those who say that this is teaching the children a valuable lesson in tolerance and acceptance, well, maybe not:
…her son Michael said he was already under pressure from classmates. He told the channel: 'They say that, put me in a different class, so that they can eat peanut butter.'OK, so, they are kids, and a kid’s complaint can be – and no doubt will be - dismissed as ‘thoughtlessly selfish’.
But is this over-the-top, draconian dismissal of others wants and concerns going to foster more tolerance, or less?
…Nancy Wait, district spokeswoman for Volusia County Schools, said the school is legally obliged to take the precautions under the Federal Disabilities Act.
The policy was implemented last August in a letter from school principal Lynda H Moore, which says the girl 'has very severe reactions to even the slightest exposure'.
Mrs Wait told Fox News: '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.
That, it seems, is the big difference. Is it too big a difference to be accepted or acceptable?
Over to you, readers.