When your child has a food allergy, you have to take all the precautions you can to protect them. This includes discussing your child’s situation with their school. Clear and open communication with the school can help your child stay safe during the school day.
First, become as informed as you can about your child’s allergies, including the foods that cause it, the signs of an allergic reaction, how epinephrine can help, how to use an epi pen, and how your child might describe a reaction. Also find out how your school approaches food allergy management. They probably have a plan in place. Connect with a local food allergy support group where you can talk with other parents in the area.
Build a team at the school to share information about your child and to educate them about your child’s allergies. Make yourself available to answer questions and to address concerns. This might include cafeteria staff, maintenance staff, administration, nurses, teachers, coaches, parents, classmates, and transportation staff.
File a food allergy and anaphylaxis emergency care plan with your school. It provides an outline of what to do in case your child has an allergic reaction. It also includes phone numbers for emergency contacts. Your child’s doctor signs it. In case of an emergency, your child’s school will know to go right away to their file, look at that paper and can administer the correct medical care while they wait for emergency assistance.
You can also help reduce allergens in the classroom by talking with your child’s teacher about rules like not sharing or trading food, only allowing food items with labels to be come into the classroom (no home-baked cookies), providing snacks for the whole class so your child can eat what everyone else does, etc.
Finally, visit FoodAllergy.org for a helpful list of resources to help you discuss your child’s allergy with their school.
L. Hughes-Page, M.Ed.
L. Hughes Page is a Field Supervisor to student teachers in the Graduate Department of Education at Gwynedd Mercy University.