School, Student And Family Responsibilities In School

By Heather Legg

My mother was recently telling me of a friend of hers who has a grand child allergic to a few different foods. Apparently, the child’s mother was searching for a private school for the girl and chose the school based on the fact that another child went there with the same allergies. It was reassuring to her that she would have that support from the school already being aware of allergies (the same ones her daughter has) and she felt safe with the protocol they took on allergies. There was also the added support of the family who was already involved in the school.

On the one hand, it’s great that the family found a school where they feel so safe and comfortable with their daughter attending with her food allergies. On the other hand, shouldn’t schools be chosen on academic merit and all of  them treat allergies with serious caution, to make all students and parents feel safe? Apparently they don’t – I just read an article where a mother claims that a teacher gave her allergic child peanuts to keep him from attending a field trip.

Obviously, managing food allergies in school is a team effort. key players are the family, the school, the student. It takes everyone’s care and knowledge to keep the child safe. Here are some guidelines from the Food Allergy Initiative to safeguard your child in school – things you can do, things your child needs to do and things the school should do:

Family’s Responsibility
• Notify the school of the allergy
• Work with a team to develop an effective plan to accommodate the child in all areas of school
• Provide a written plan and emergency contact information
• Provide properly labeled and up to date medications
• Educate the child in self management

School’s Responsibility
• Be knowledgeable and follow state and federal laws and guidelines
• Always provide alternate foods/activities to make sure students are included in all activities
• Assure all staff is knowledgeable and trained in food allergies and emergency procedures (including recognizing symptoms, reacting in emergency situations and understanding consequences of ingested allergens)
• Be prepared to handle reactions based on individual needs
• Include bus drivers in implementation and safety plans and protocol (including having communication devices, training in medication, no eating policies on buses
• Maintain appropriate strategies and guidelines on field trips, including taking medication and having someone trained to administer medicine with the group
• Do not allow any type of bullying or threats regarding food allergies
• Educate teachers, students and other parents about food allergies

Student’s Responsibility
• Be aware of allergy
• Do not trade food or eat anything unsure of
• Report any symptoms to an adult immediately

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