Personally, I wouldnt worry too much. I would check my kids over frequently, as I do, but other than that, wouldnt worry. My kids spend up to 6 or 7 hours a day in our woods. We have them change their clothes and we look over them when they come in, and we havent had a problem. I have had a lot of ticks on me, and have never had a crawler attach in less than 18 to 24 hours. The odds of him getting bit and infected within school hours are really small.
I think you can't expect the school to change their outdoor-oriented focus. If you feel that strongly about it you should probably find a new school.
When my kids were little they went to a school similar to what you've described. It was in the woods with access to a fields as well. There were a lot of ticks. When they went on nature walks the teachers traveled with duct tape to get them before they embedded. It's the price you pay for being in the woods around here. My dd1 now goes to a different school with an environmental science focus and is out in the woods and in the river all the time. Ticks are not a huge concern for me.
I live in an area with a lot of tick-borne diseases. I've know multiple people who have had lyme and other tick-borne diseases including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. I check my kids for ticks in the spring and summer and have them check themselves, but I would rather have them grow up loving being in the woods than be afraid of going in the woods. I think that's more damaging, personally, but ymmv.
Do what you think is best, but don't expect the school to change too much, especially if other parents aren't concerned.
"All you fascists are bound to lose" — Woody Guthrie
I'm going to side with a PP. This is the school's focus, a lot of outdoor education. You are no longer comfortable with your child partaking in these activities. The reasonable thing to do if you are this concerned about ticks, is to change to a school with a different focus.
We once upon a time attended a school whose primary focus was creative, outdoor education. We loved it so much back then. We would get parents that would come in and then attempt to change the outdoor education because they didn't like it. It is really rare to find schools like this and they are not for everyone, they truly aren't. If this isn't for you, then it's ok to move on to another school. I do understand about moving closer, the commute, etc... but you also can't make this school everything you want without causing major issues unless there is already a common concern about ticks which it does not sound like there is.
I spent almost all of this post wondering why not bug repellant. Then you spent one sentence on bug repellant. You don't like deet. So you're considering uprooting your family, regardless of the stress and cost, rather then considering deet alternatives. I sort of see why you're getting some scoffing there.
You have a problem that would be solved by bug repellant. It will not be solved by moving twenty minutes away, unless you move into a hermetically sealed clean room when you do. It will not be solved by mowing the playground grass short and not having the kids go in the woods - plenty of people (me and my kids included) pick up ticks on short-mowed lawns. It will not be solved by changing the curriculum at school. You loved the curriculum when you had your house built near this school, so it's bizarre that you're thinking of trying to exempt your kid from going into the woods, or make sure that the school never takes any kid into the woods at all.
Whatever school, or house, or lifestyle you choose, there will be some risk to your children. Right now, you have identified a risk of tick-borne disease. If you go to the other school you have in mind, what risks will you find there? Will they be better or worse then the risk you're dealing with now?
I live in a city, and make some serious efforts to make sure that my kids get some time in the woods now and then. I spent big parts of my own childhood in the woods near my parents' house. I'm glad that I got to have those experiences even if I sometimes came home with ticks. I think a life without a chance to enjoy nature is a worse thing then a life with a risk of lyme disease. I also know that I'm not in a place where I have to make choices between enjoying nature and avoiding disease. I can just apply bug repellant.
And that's not snark. I've lived with anxiety. Stressing about moving when a simple solution is available.... is a reaction out of proportion to the problem, and that is a hallmark of anxiety that is interfering with your life to the extent that some type of treatment, be it medical or counseling or whatever... is a possibility that should be explored.
I do know people with lyme disease, and long-term issues from it. That makes me pretty enthusiastic about bug repellant (sorry to harp). It does not necessarily make me think that you're having a useful reaction to this concern.
The only issue you've expressed about Deet so far is distaste. You don't like it. Are you willing to reconsider that a little, given what you've recently learned about ticks and lyme disease?
Picaridin seems to be reasonably effective, how about that?
I repeat - I don't think you'll remove the risk of tick-borne disease by moving 20 minutes away. It would suck to do all that, and then discover that the neighbor's bushes or something have exactly the same problems as the playground at your current school and there's nothing you can do.
I've dealt with major anxiety issues too, and for me, it's a red flag that you are talking about making a huge, drastic, stressful set of changes (moving house is one of the most stressful things modern humans deal with on a day to day basis - on the list of most stressful stuff, it's right under the death of a spouse, and divorce). It's also a red flag that the change you're talking about making won't necessarily change your risk exposure.
yes I have anxiety issues. Okay. We are building this house still right now and it cost WAY more than we planned and that has been a huge stress for me,. My anxiety increased tons when I became a mom. Because I love love love love love my child- of course-- and I really see how dangerous some things are in this world.
But given that, even with the fact that I am anxious and really stressed out right now, I still think my concern is valid. And it is very simple:
I only recently discovered that he school I send my kid to exposes thm to a danger that is beyond my comfort level. I think that is not an extreme reaction but a practical one. The only reason I am not then moving to a school (yet) that feels better tome- is because of the financial aspect of the house.
If having your child play out side often/spend time in nature is considered "a danger beyond your comfort level" I would highly recommend seeking some sort of professional counseling and researching additional tick repellent options. It seems like you have out of control anxiety over an unnecessary issue. Lyme is totally serious and I would never wish it upon anyone however I wouldn't avoid the woods/any/every single place a tick could possibly be because of it nor would I spend this amount of time/energy worrying about it. Seriously. Anxiety is draining, trust me I've been there. You sound like an awesome mom for caring about your child so much, don't let the stress/anxiety take over your life.
Last time one of my kids picked up a tick, she has to have gotten it either on a city sidewalk, or from short-mowed park grass, far from the woods. My mom is a doctor, specializing in infectious diseases and pediatrics. She only asks one question when determining whether she has to consider the risk of tick-borne disease in a patient - "Have you been outside?" So I'm deeply unconvinced that the action you're considering (changing schools and moving) will reduce the risk you're currently concerned about (ticks).
Changing a child's school is a very big deal. My kids react strongly to new settings and unpredictability, and they miss their friends. Settling in to a new group of people is hard, especially mid-year. So I would need a very big cause, that couldn't be addressed by other means, and I would need to feel reasonably assured that I was getting the kids into a better situation, and that it was a situation we could live with in the long term. What information do you have about the other school? Would it be a good enough fit for your kid to justify the change to everyone involved? Would the risk of tick-borne disease be lower in that neighborhood then it is in your current one? Are there other risks inherent to that school that you might eventually find unacceptable? Does that school have space in your child's grade? What's the application process like - a lot of private schools around here have application deadlines in January and February (earlier if you need financial aid), could you even get your child considered at this point? If it's a public school, of course you can enroll your child any time you move, but you would have to move first. Would the new neighborhood be a good fit for your family? Would it have dangers that eventually caused you this level of concern?
Of course you don't have to raise your child in the woods. But until quite recently, you seem to have valued raising your kid in the woods a lot. And you don't talk about your partner at all. What are his (or her) feelings on this issue?
Given a choice between using bug repellent or moving to a new school district in the apparently unresearched hope that things would be different there, most people would be reading Consumer Reports and the CDC info about bug repellents. The fact that you've jumped to moving to a new school district does suggest that this isn't garden variety parental concern.
To let you know my "credentials" here:
In 2009 my then-9yo was one of the earliest Lyme cases in my county. We never saw a tick, he never had a bullseye rash, and he went straight to Lyme meninngitis, one sided facial paralyis with same sided limb weakness. Nearly the worst case scenario. Fortunately we caught it quickly, but treatment was incredibly unpleasant, and included head CTs, a spinal tap, MRIs, multiple blood draws and a month of IV antibiotics via an implanted line.
I know it is not a small thing. TRUST ME, I know.
My kid got Lyme, almost certainly, at an outdoor arts camp. It's a wonderful program, with kids learning tracking and plant identification, fire building, knife skills, and more.
He still does that program, and has done, every year. Do I worry about Lyme? Yes. Now that he's had it, the only way to diagnose a new outbreak would be tissue cultures of infected tissues, which don't sound like fun.
BUt what he gets from the program is so, so worth it. He needs that time out in nature -- in REAL nature. The benefits of it to children are huge. The benefits to my child, in particular, with his personal issues? Marked. You can see differences in his learning, in his attention, in his entire behavior and demeanor and self-confidence and happiness and self esteem when he is participating in these outdoor ed programs. They have, no kidding, been pivotal to his development.
So we practice risk mitigation: he dresses appropriately, we use DEET, we use herbal repellants based on geranium oil, and we do tick checks religiously.
You do need to be careful where you're getting your info, by the way. The 20 minute number you cite isn't supported by anything I've read -- and I have read A LOT. There are a lot of Lyme Fearmongers out there. Many of them are selling you things. You really do have longer than 20 minutes to locate ticks and remove them, and not every tick is a carrier.
At the same time, the idea that you can only get LYme in certain specific terrains is also not accurate. If you go outside, there can, and will be, ticks. As someone said above, the risk factor becomes "Was the person outside?"
The only way you can ensure you won't meet a tick is to never go outside when its warm enough for ticks to be active.
And that's ... not how I want my children to live. And it sounds like, absent the Lyme issue, you feel that way too.
YOu're talking about overturning your entire life, your home, subjecting your child to a long commute. YOu do know that statistically, that long commute to a different school is less safe than just letting your kid outside with a dusting of DEET? Your'e talking about locking yoru child up in a house full of offgassing technology, but DEET or long light-coloed pants are unacceptable?
Please understand: I know Lyme. I fear Lyme. I have experienced almost the worst Lyme has to offer. It made me change my stance of the use of DEET, it made me more careful about how we go into the woods -- but you have to be realistic about the fact that you have to live life.
savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).
my child is only in preschool and has only been at this school for this year. I would put him into a new school next year if I did this. my husband supports me in this process of figuring out the best steps to take- we are both concerned and confused about how to deal with this.(I have to add that there are other reasons for possibly moving too which I don't want to get into here)
For those of you who live in less rural areas than I do---- do you think your kids have the danger of being exposed to ticks in a real way at their school play areas? If so, how? I mean, if you live in the suburbs and your kids play outside at school. have you found ticks to be a problem there?
I think there are dangers everywhere kids go on any playground in any area! Your child (or mine) could fall off the playground, break their leg, hit their head, get a concussion, need stitches, get a black eye, etc. etc. etc. Danger is everywhere. Do I wish any of this would happen to my child (or yours)? Of course not! Would I uproot my child's life and move them to a new school (which will also have dangers) because I'm concerned? No way. A friend of mine had a daughter who went on an extremely small slide at the children's museum (one that she had been on hundreds of times). She bumped her head (softly) at the bottom and blacked out (ended up being fine, no concussion). And yet she still goes down the slide at any park they go to.
Found a few articles on ticks in suburban areas. Thought you might be interested. Good luck with whatever choice you make--I wish you and your family the best and hope you find the solution that you believe is right for you.
I live in an inner city neighborhood, but we have an excellent park system. I chose the kids' preschool because it's located in a city park (mostly playing fields, all grass with the occasional tree, no bushes or plantings), right next to a city-maintained playground. The kids spend a lot of time outside during the summer months at pre-school, and our family frequently uses the recreational bike and walking trails through other parks near our home to get to playgrounds, spend time outside, and get around the neighborhood. DS's school has a playground and soccer field that are also in heavy use. I have found ticks on my kids after walks in the park. I occasionally pull a tick off of one kid or another that has to have been picked up at school. Ticks do fine in short grass, especially when lawns are watered, or when there's plenty of rain. They also seem pretty happy even in well-maintained, landscaped areas.
We've also picked up ticks from the high grass near the beach, and running around outside in a variety of locations. We're exposed to ticks on a regular basis.