Is there room for essential oils in the school system?

Essential OilsA recent controversy regarding the use of essential oils at school has caught the attention of many parents of children with special needs, including myself.

The first story is of Logan Kemp, a 5 year old kindergartner at Seminole Springs Elementary School, who was threatened with suspension because of the essential oils he was wearing.  Logan’s mother had received a letter from the school advising her that some students where having an adverse reaction to the smell.

School officials have since said they will work with family to find a better solution than suspension.

In another article, school nurses at Park Elementary School in Casper, Wyoming will no longer be permitted to apply essential oils to students due to the increase in asthma attacks and allergic reactions since last year.

These stories have stirred up many strong opinions from both sides of the fence.   On one side we have the parents that have used essential oils on their children (neurotypical kids as well as special needs) with many raving about the benefits and changes they have seen in them.  The changes they have seen range anywhere from being more calm to being more alert.

On the other side we also have the parents whose children have serious allergic reactions to scents and fragrances; causing some to have an asthma attack.  Placing them in an environment with such smells could have a very serious effect on their health.essential oils

So is it possible to incorporate the use of essential oils in school without violating or intruding on the rights of the next student that has the serious allergic reaction, and if so, how do we do that?

Some have suggested that if scent is an issue, to apply the essential oils on the feet, followed by socks and shoes.  This should diminish if not completely eliminate the smell.   Another suggestion has been to try diluting the oils to reduce the scent.

When smell is not an issue and it isn’t affecting anyone in the classroom then I believe the child should be able to wear the oils if it helps them throughout their day.

I don’t believe there should be a “one size fits all” type of approach.  I believe such decisions should be made on an individual basis and always with the best interest of all the students involved in the classroom.

I don’t think there would be one parent that would insist on using essential oils on their child knowing there would be another child suffering from a severe allergic reaction to it.

I would like to think that as adults we are capable of making sound judgements about issues like this without having a government body intervening and regulating something as simple as essential oils.

I believe every child has the right to a proper education; the child with special needs that has an IEP program to help them achieve their academic goals; the child with ADHD that uses essential oils to help calm them and stay focused during their day as well as the child that can experience allergic reactions to certain foods and/or smells.

Each one of these children has the right to go to school and receive an education without discrimination.

Parents and school administrators should work together to come to a mutual agreement on how the essential oils can and should be administered without being intrusive to others.

I find it rather odd though that no mention is ever made about teachers and staff that wear perfume or cologne.  Would this not also be an intrusive and offensive smell to those that have allergies?  Why would essential oils be different?

Comments are welcome.

  • Yes agreed. While I’m a big fan of essential oils, I have to wonder in regards to smells and allergies what about glade plugins, candles, cleaning products, airsprays and everything else with a chemical scent? You mentioned perfume but there are a lot more items that are in many schools than that. I also am familiar with several hospitals that have used essential oils in their emergency rooms without any issues so I have to wonder if the essential oils are really causing allergies and asthma or is it something else but they are blaming the essential oils because of the smells or because they do not truly understand how essential oils work?

  • Claudine Davis-Whitely says:

    I habe had the opportunity to visit many of the schools in Miami Dade County and let me tell you that the condition of some of these schools are bad.
    I am a huge supporter of the use of essential oils. Essential oils in its pure forms or strength can be very potent.
    As in everything else moderation is the key. When it come to essential oils more is not necessarily better. A smart dab goes a long way. I agree with applying the essential oil on the children’s feet instead of on the body because not everyone can tolerate the smell of essential oils. I also believe that applying the oils to the feet then putting on the child’s sock and shoe will be even more beneficial because it gets absorbed in the child’s system, the child gets the benefit and the other children are not affected. All children have the right to be in a classroom and to be able to get an education in an environment without being distracted by the odor of what other children or teachers are wearing. We wear perfumes and colognes without regards to how other people may react to it. I am an asthmatic and I have yet to have an attack or a reaction from the use of essential oils. I have had reactions to some perfumes so I apply my perfume when I go outdoors and before I get in my car. I believe these children are more so reacting to the perfumes, the disturbing conditions like dust, molds, moisture and God knows what is in the walls and the buildings which is what is making our children sick in schools
    Holistic parents and grandparents let us be mindful of our use of essential oils by applying it in a diluted form, moderation and applying it to our precious little one’s feet. Let us not give any reasons to be prohibited from using essential oils on our chlildren..

  • There is an unfortunate lack of understanding — and a lot of over-reaction to essential oils. A reaction to the scent of an essential oil applied to someone else is simply not documented. The approved, ‘green’ cleaning products in the school are more likely to cause a reaction. It is important in situations like this that the school – if after having conversations with the affected parents – resolve the issues using real experts. Certified air quality professionals and allergists can best evaluate and assist in dealing with any parent’s concerns. In the end, this comes down to a simple decision — we should do everything possible to respond to and accommodate parental concerns. We should ignore a beneficial accommodation due to irrational parental fears fueled by social media.

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