Your child has an allergy. Perhaps it’s just been diagnosed or you’ve known since early on, but a new school year is about to start and you need to inform the teachers and staff about the allergy. A good way of doing this is through informative letter addressed to all school personnel working with your child, including teachers, principals, school nurse and cafeteria workers. But what are the major points you need to cover?
For starters, you need to include everything your child is allergic to, and be specific. If it’s food, list in detail the foods that cause reactions, as well as common foods the allergen may be in. If it is a seasonal, insect or environmental allergy, be as specific as possible with not only the cause but also what time of year may be the worst. The same for asthma; list any factors that may exacerbate the condition.
Along with the specific allergens, you need to include symptoms and treatments. Depending on your family’s medical plans, you should have specific treatments dependent on the reaction. It’s a good idea to list symptoms mild to severe and include them all, even emotional or cognitive symptoms that may arise when the allergy is aggravated. Some kids get unusually sleepy or lose ability to focus along with the more common physical indicators. Remember, you need to make this letter specific to your child, not an overview of all allergies.
In accordance with treatments, you need to inform school personnel of not only what medications your child has, but also where they should be located (school nurse’s office, classroom, backpack), dosages, the fact that they need to be taken on field trips, who can administer them (your child, the nurse, teachers), side effects that go along with treatments and when you or the doctor should be called. Include doctor’s numbers and your emergency information.
Another aspect to cover is any type of restrictions your child has due to allergies. Food allergies will limit what your child can eat and you need to let your teachers know to what extent this goes. Does your child need to sit at a different table? Do you need to send in allergy safe snacks? If it’s environmental or a seasonal allergy, let the school know what your child needs to stay away from and if there are certain things that can’t be in the classroom. For instance, if it’s animal hair, make it clear that other students shouldn’t bring in their pets for show and tell.
A key fact to remember is that you are the parent, you are in charge, so be proactive. Make sure you get the severity of the allergy across and be clear of the impact coming in contact with the allergen can have on your child. The school should be willing to work with you and make school a safe place for your child.
- Heather Legg