By Heather Legg
With all the allergies there are in schools, you’d think that schools would all have universal allergy management plans. But there aren’t consistent ones nation wide, at least not yet, and in many states, it is really up to the individual school to do what they think is necessary to prevent allergic reactions.
I know in our school, Epipens are normally kept in the nurse’s office (certain students do have them in classrooms but that is not the norm), some classrooms are nut free, depending on students, parents and teachers in each class, but there can be an allergic child in a non allergy free class. The cafeteria is basically nut free, except for peanut butter sandwiches for kids who forget their lunch money. I know there are a lot of parents out there who would not be comfortable at all with our school’s policies.
My daughter hasn’t suffered an allergic reaction in school, so for my own personal reasons, I’m, OK with what the school does. However, I know there are kids with much more severe allergies who are more susceptible to reactions, is this fair to them? Shouldn’t a school be safe on all accounts?
Recently in the news, I have been reading about a mother, Jennifer Davis, who is really trying to enforce universal plans in school. According to an article in USA Today, Many schools and school districts in the U.S. have allergy policies, but only Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee have statewide plans, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education. While several other states have developed guidelines, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, who introduced the legislation, told a Senate panel last month that “without federal guidance, a child’s health and safety may be protected in one school but not in another.”
Davis says she and her daughter are afraid every day that something will happen because of the severity of her allergy. While she was in school in South Dakota, she never had a problem and there was a food allergy plan in place at her school. However, when she moved to South Carolina, her school has no allergy plan and that is worrisome. “Danielle is terrified to attend school on the days following big candy holidays like Halloween and Easter because students bring peanut butter cups and other goodies with them,” states the article. Though there is a nut ban in the school, it is not really enforced.
Currently, the government is working on instilling food allergy management plans for schools throughout the United States. According to this same article, The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act passed the House in April and is pending in the Senate. Because of help from people like Senator Dodd and Entertainer Trace Adkins, this plan is getting more recognition and has a better chance of passing. Hopefully, soon a nation wide allergy plan will be in place in all schools, and be enforced. This will make us all feel better.