Parents have enough to worry about when their kids return to school, but when you’re the parent of a food allergy child, there’s always that additional worry in your mind. Here are 10 tips for sending your child back to school safely with a food allergy:
1. Request a meeting with the school administrator, teacher and school nurse before the school year begins. Create a direct dialogue with school officials to discuss needs and procedures before the school year starts.
2. Have necessary forms ready and at the school before the school year starts. These generally include:
** Medication Authorization Forms – states if child can self-carry and/or self-administer medications at school. These forms are generally required even if the medication will be stored and administered by school staff.
** Special Dietary Meals Accommodation Form – Needed if your child will eat meals provided by school.
**Emergency Action Plan (EAP) Form– This tells caregivers what to do in case of an allergic emergency.
**Food Allergy Management and Prevention Plan -This is typically either an Individualized Health Plan (IHP) or a 504 Plan.
3. Make sure your child always has and knows how to use an Epi Device – It’s recommended those with food allergies always carry two devices since one is often not enough. Even if the school nurse holds the devices or school provides, your child should still know how to self administer.
4. Pack your child’s lunches and snacks. While many school cafeterias try to accommodate students with food allergies, it is always safest to send your child to school with food that you packed and prepared.
5. Teach your child the “No Food Sharing ” Rule. We like to have our children learn that sharing is caring, but when it comes to a food allergy , it’s risky for kids to trade for food that is potentially unsafe.
6. For classroom celebrations encourage and send in non-food items to share with classmates such as stickers, colored pencils, books, craft items. For classroom snacks, encourage and send in fresh fruit, vegetables, and snacks that are Top 8 Free.
7. Sport a Medical Alert Bracelet – These are very useful in the event your child goes into anaphylaxis and can’t speak for him/herself.
8. Be sure your child knows to always wash hands with soap and water before and after eating . Sending hand wipes to school is a good idea too, but washing with soap and water is the best way to remove allergens.
9. Teach your child that having a food allergy is something NOT to be ashamed of. Use the food allergy as a learning opportunity for all in the classroom.
10. Make sure your child reports any and all bullying. Food allergic kids in schools are often belittled and bullied and this should be stopped immediately.