We decided to take the Richmond News up on its offer to give us some space in the paper on a regular basis.
It's wonderful to have the opportunity, so thank you to the News for offering us a place to communicate.
At the same time, it's hard to write something that's interesting to everyone, so we thought it might be better to turn the tables and invite some reader participa-tion. If you have a question for the school district, the chances are other people have that question too. You can post any questions you have to our Facebook page (link available at www. sd38.bc.ca), or tweet us @ RichmondSD38.
Thanks to DCL and KC for sending in the two inter-esting questions we're look-ing at today.
Q: I thought I heard that a "reverse lunch" pro-gram (play first, eat later) was being piloted at some Richmond elementary schools. What is the status of the program and will it be implemented elsewhere? Is it a school-by-school choice? - DRL
A: I heard from 10 Richmond elementary schools that have a "reverse lunch". The children go out to play when the lunch break begins, then they come back in and eat lunch.
As Jane MacMillan, principal of Woodward elementary puts it, "We find it works exceptionally well. Students are able to imme-diately have a great physical break after working in class (rather than delaying it by having to eat lunch first).
"By the time they come in at 12: 30 p.m., they are hungry and ready to eat.
There is not the same sense of urgency, as some aren't racing to get outside to play, and as they have 20 minutes to eat, most are finished by the time the bell rings at 12: 50 p.m.
"However, another ben-efit is for the slower eaters. Rather than being left in the class while the others head outside, as would be the case in a traditional lunch break, those who aren't quite finished eating can have a few extra minutes, as most classes have some sort of independent reading time after lunch."
MacMillan's comments are similar to those of other schools that have switched up lunch hour in this way.
We also have reports that the amount of food thrown away at lunch is dramatically down at schools with the reverse lunch hour. Schools who have reversed their lunch seem to like it that way for lots of good easons.
This is a school-by-school choice rather than a district initiative. If you're interested in pursuing this idea, the best place to talk about it is at your child's school.
Both the principal and the PAC would be good places to start.
Each school I heard from used some sort of consultation process to make sure parents and staff had some input about the idea before they tried it out.
Q: I'm a parent of a child with a life-threatening peanut allergy. It seems that even with signs plastered everywhere, still some parent sends their child with a peanut butter sandwich. What other precautionary measures is the school district taking to protect children with severe food allergies? - KC
I can see that you'd be concerned about this, as the stakes for your child are high. In my experience, schools are very careful with severe allergies, as this is a critical health issue.
There's a publicized list of names and pictures of children with serious allergies in each school and this is circulated to all staff.
An emergency plan is in place and trained staff members can administer medication if necessary.
However, it seems that you're concerned because you noticed a peanut butter sandwich had been brought to school by another child.
It's important to talk to your child's school about their safety procedures around allergies and what the expectations are for other parents.
The bottom line - please ask if you have health or safety concerns about your child at school. We don't want you to worry or suffer in silence.
The school wants to be fully aware of your child's health needs too, so it never hurts to check in with them when you have questions like this.
Monica Pamer is the superintendent of the Richmond School District.