With school starting soon, you’re probably busy with back-to-school activities, like buying clothes and school supplies, but is preparing your child’s school for his/her food allergies on the to-do list?
With a little organization, preparation and education, you can help keep your child safe from experiencing a food allergy reaction at school. We’ve created this list of tips to get you started.
Make an appointment with the allergist.
Discuss and update your child’s food allergy emergency plan for school, making sure the plan includes a photo of your child and your and the doctor’s contact information. Also, ask for any prescriptions that may need to be filled for the school.
Order a medical alert bracelet.
Along with your child’s name and allergy types, consider including that epinephrine should be given for a severe reaction.
Gather your child’s medical supplies.
Make sure all of your child’s medications are packed and ready to go to school. If it’s possible, provide the school with medications that will not expire; otherwise, make a note of the expiration date(s) on a calendar, so you’ll be ready to replace them before the expiration date.
If your child won’t have an epinephrine auto-injector on him/her at all times, provide one to the school nurse, your child’s teacher and any other school staff who will spend time with your child. The epinephrine container should be labeled with your child’s name, photo and emergency contact information.
Develop emergency plans with the school.
Speak with the school’s staff and make emergency plans for different scenarios, like snack time, lunchtime, classroom parties and field trips. Remind school staff they should give epinephrine immediately, then call 911 in the event of a severe allergic reaction.
Attend the school meeting.
Ask questions related to your child’s food allergy, including:
- Where is the food kept, and where will your child eat?
- Are tables cleaned with disposable disinfecting wipes? Sponges can spread allergens.
- Which staff oversees snack and lunchtime, and do they discourage food sharing?
- Can teachers give you several days’ notice of food-related events, including birthday parties?
- Is food used as a reward in the classroom, and if so, can alternative rewards be given?
- Are kids urged to wash their hands, instead of using hand sanitizer, before and after eating? Hand sanitizer gels do not remove allergens.
- Is training provided to teachers on how kids describe allergic reactions (e.g. kids may say their food tastes spicy, tongue feels hot, mouth feels itchy or funny, or lips feel tight)?
Write a letter to other parents.
Your letter should include the allergies your child has, what can cause a reaction and the serious effects of a reaction. Explain cross contamination and how preventative measures can keep your child safe.
For year-long tips, read “Going to School With Food Allergies” at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital website.