It’s the beginning of a new school year. You’ve gotten the lists for school supplies, snacks, even the students in your child’s class. Here is one more list, hopefully a helpful one, to help you and your child with allergies get the school year started off feeling safe.
The following items are steps to take at the beginning of the school year for your child with an allergy, whether it is food, insect, environmental, or any other severe allergy.
1. Make sure you have all applicable forms required by your school and school system completed, updated and signed by you and your child’s doctor/doctors.
2. Make sure you have all prescription medications filled (Epipens, inhalers, etc.) and check the expiration dates. Check to make sure your OTC meds are within the dates as well.
3. Drop off all medication with the appropriate personnel (i.e. teacher, nurse) and/or make sure your child is comfortable to carry it in his or her backpack in a safe spot.
4. Write an informative letter describing your child’s allergy (see Writing Letters to School Regarding Your Child’s Allergy); make sure the letter covers all points and distribute them to the appropriate personnel.
5. Develop an emergency medical plan if a form is not available already. Put it in writing and include preferred medical facilities and emergency phone numbers.
6. Find an appropriate time (i.e. open house, meet and greet) sometime before school starts when you can speak directly to your child’s primary teacher to discuss his/her allergies and your guidelines.
7. If your child suffers from a food allergy, speak with the lunchroom staff to ensure that they are aware of symptoms and procedures in the case your child has a reaction.
8. You may choose to address the class parents (especially in the case of food allergies) either by letter or in person, at an open house, for instance. This is your opportunity to enlist their help in keeping the classroom a safe, allergy free environment for your child.
9. Last, but certainly not to be overlooked, refresh your child on keeping safe and being aware of his/her allergy. Remind him/her of checking ingredients and to ask if uncertain, as well as ways to handle the possible peer pressure or simply talk about the allergy.
Some of these points may apply to you, perhaps all of them will. Use this list as a guideline for yourself and your child to handle your child’s allergy in the safest, most comprehensive way possible. Follow some of the steps, all of the steps, or just use it as a guide to develop appropriate steps that suit your family and educational setting. The goal is not to be overbearing, but to be informative, practical, and proactive to provide a safe school year for your child.
- Heather Legg