FOOD ALLERGIES IN SCHOOL
The goal of the following food allergy guidelines is to assist an identified allergic student in avoiding exposure to allergens. It is recognized, however, that the school district cannot guarantee the elimination of allergens from the school environment.
- Notify the school of your child’s allergies and the history of presenting symptoms.
Schedule an appointment with the school nurse, principal, teacher and cafeteria manager.
Work with the school team to develop a plan that accommodates your child’s needs throughout the school including in the classroom, in the cafeteria, during school-sponsored activities, and on the school bus, as well as a Food Allergy Action Plan.
A written Individualized Health Care Plan and Individualized Emergency Plan will be established by the school nurse in conjunction with the parent, student, the student’s health care provider who has documented the food allergy, and school personnel, to be followed in the event that an allergic student ingests or believes he/she has ingested an offending food.
Provide written medical documentation, instructions, and medication as directed by the physician who has documented the food allergy, using the Food Allergy Action Plan as a guide. Update as necessary. Include a photo of the child on written form. Return all forms in a timely manner.
Provide the necessary, properly labeled medications and replace medications after use or upon expiration.
Families should work directly with any after-care programs or coaches as well.
Continue to provide annual medical documentation and medication consistently as your child moves to different schools and grade levels. Provide medical documentation from the health care provider who has documented the food allergy, for all changes in child’s allergy or associated health condition.
Educate your child in the self-management of their food allergy including:
- safe and unsafe foods
- strategies for avoiding exposure of unsafe foods including not sharing foods with classmates
- symptoms of allergic reactions
- how and when to tell an adult they may be having an allergy-related problem
- how to read food labels (age appropriate)
If your child is participating in the hot lunch program, read the ingredient labels weekly to determine which foods are "safe." No peanut butter, peanut or nut products will be served or sold by food services at elementary or middle schools.
Southington High School serves peanut butter and nut products with a sign identifying them in the product line and on the menu. Contact the cafeteria manager or Food Service Director with questions and to review nutrient lists.
- Provide emergency contact information. Update information as changes occur.
Consider volunteering as a chaperone on your child’s field trips.
You may provide a non-perishable lunch to be kept at school in case your child forgets to bring lunch one day.
Particularly at the elementary school level, you are encouraged to keep a supply of “safe” snacks - fruit bars, popcorn, or other appropriate snack in the classroom.
Some parents request that a letter be sent home to the other classroom parents asking that no peanuts or peanut products be sent in for snacks. Although this may add a level of safety, it does not ensure that any food brought in is safe for your child. We strongly advise that you provide all snacks for your child.
You may wish to request a “peanut free” (or other food allergen free) table during lunch.
School nurses or other school personnel will not attempt to determine whether foods brought to school are safe for an allergic child to consume. If the situation warrants, a call will be made to the student’s parent or legal guardian to make the determination.
Students with severe life-threatening allergies may self-carry their EpiPen with MD, parent/legal guardian, and School Nurse authorization. Student must have the epinephrine auto-injector readily available for all field trips as well. You may wish to keep an extra epinephrine auto-injector in the Health Office in case your child forgets his/her prescribed EpiPen or Auvi-Q.
Review procedures with the school staff, the child’s physician, and the child after a reaction has occurred.
Connecticut State Department of Education, Guidelines for Managing Life-Threatening Food Allergies in Connecticut Schools
Contact your school nurse with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your child’s health. Written documentation from your child's physician must be brought to the school nurse in order to discontinue an epinephrine auto-injector medication in school.
WORDS A CHILD MIGHT USE TO DESCRIBE A REACTION
Children have unique ways of describing their experiences and perceptions, including allergic reactions. Precious time is lost when adults do not immediately recognize that a reaction is occurring or don’t understand what the children might be telling them.
In addition, know that sometimes children, especially very young ones, will put their hands in their mouths, or pull or scratch at their tongues, in response to a reaction. Also,children’s voices may change (i.e., become hoarse or squeaky), and they may slur their words.
If you suspect your child is having an allergic reaction, follow your doctor’s instructions.
The following text contains examples of the words a child might use to describe a reaction.
• This food’s too spicy.
• My tongue is hot (or burning).
• It feels like something’s poking my tongue.
• My tongue (or mouth) is tingling (or burning).
• My tongue (or mouth) itches.
• It (my tongue) feels like there is hair on it.
• My mouth feels funny.
• There’s a frog in my throat.
• There’s something stuck in my throat.
• My tongue feels full (or heavy).
• My lips feel tight.
• It feels like there are bugs in there (to describe itchy ears).
• It [my throat] feels thick.
• It feels like a bump is on the back of my tongue [throat].
From: Food Allergy News, Vol. 13, No. 2. ©2003 The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. All rights reserved.
For more information visit the Food Allergy Research and Education: http://www.foodallergy.org/
Disclaimer: The information provided herein is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this material. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.