Living & Managing: Manage Your Allergy: How to handling Allergies in School
Managing Food Allergies at School
Education, communication and cooperation are the keys to managing food allergies at school. FARE offers a variety of helpful resources and materials to help you or your child have a safer experience at school. By working as a team with the school personnel, other parents, and your physician, you can ensure that your child has a safe and rewarding experience.
Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan
This document should be on file for every student with food allergies. It outlines treatment recommended treatment in case of an allergic reaction, includes emergency contact numbers and is signed by the student’s physician.
Managing Food Allergies in the School Setting: Guidance for Parents
Created to help parents send their children with food allergies off to school, this resource addresses key issues, from providing information and medication to the school to coping with bullying. This document is the result of a collaboration between FARE, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other organizations.
School Guidelines for Managing Students with Food Allergies
These guidelines define the responsibilities of the family, the school, and the student who has food allergies. Developed by a consortium of professional associations and food allergy experts, this document provides the foundation for creating an effective food allergy management plan at school.
A food allergy may be considered a disability under federal laws, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Letter from FARE to School Leaders
This signed letter from FARE to school leaders discusses recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and written accommodations to keep students with food allergies safe and included.
This checklist has 10 basic tips for teachers who have students with food allergies, such as using non-food incentives and having rapid access to epinephrine auto-injectors.
Field Trip Tips
Tips for parents and educators chaperoning school field trips on how to have a fun and safe event.
Tips for Parents & Educators
FARE and its partners have developed a number of resources specifically for educators and school personnel. Talk to your school about reviewing and implementing one of the programs below, and ask them to visit our Resources For Schools page.
6 Tips for Handling Allergies in School
For children with allergies, the end of summer doesn’t have to mean the beginning of a stuffy-headed school year. You can help control your child’s allergies at school — and you should.
In a national survey of more than 1,000 families, parents of children with nasal allergies were twice as likely to say their children’s daily activities were hurt by their health. Take action to ease your child’sallergies at school and you may boost her academic and social life as well.
To do this, you need to enlist the help of school staff. These 6 tips from the experts can help.
Meet with School Staff
Arrange a meeting with teachers, coaches, and the school nurse. Fill them in on your child’s allergies and how to deal with them.
Create an “Allergy Card”
Pollens from schoolyard trees and grasses may trigger your child’s allergies. Or indoor allergens such as mold and animal dander may set them off.
Make a reference card about your child’s triggers and reactions for the school nurse and others who may benefit from having it handy. Include:
- Your child’s typical allergy symptoms and what triggers them
- Names and doses of medications your child takes
- Any allergies your child has to medication
- Your work, home, and mobile telephone numbers
- A backup emergency contact person
Update the card annually or when medications or symptoms change.
Set up “Symptom Alerts”
If your child’s allergies worsen and wreck his sleep, or his allergy medication needs adjustment, the signs may show up in the classroom. Ask his teachers to alert you if he:
- Is unable to focus or easily distracted
- Is coughing, which may mean that allergy symptoms are worsening
- Has red eyes, a commonly overlooked symptom of allergies
Get Your Child Involved
You may not know all the allergens at school that trigger or worsen your child’s symptoms. Ask her to tell you if something seems to give her a runny nose, itchy eyes, or other symptoms. This may include:
- Dust mites. These are common, but less so if a classroom is air-conditioned
- Animal allergens. This may be a problem in classrooms that have pets such as hamsters or rabbits.
- Mold. Damp restrooms and leaking pipes can make this a problem.
- Chalk dust and strong odors. These can act as irritants, worsening allergy symptoms.
Encourage your child to tell the teacher if she thinks something is making her sneeze and sniffle. Follow up in your own ongoing talks with the teacher.
Learn About School Policy on Medications
Find out the school’s policy on having medications at school. Teach your child what to do when he needs to use medication at school.
Prepare for Potential Flares
Consider what situations may make your child’s allergies worse and plan ahead.
For example, if outdoor activities such as recess and sports may be a problem, especially on high-pollen days, taking allergy medications before heading to school may be the solution for your child.
On days when pollen counts are high, even being in the classroom may aggravate your child’s allergies. Ask teachers if it’s possible to close the classroom windows on those days.
Setting School Peanut Safety Guidelines
The key points of the guidelines are to:
- Identify the student with the food allergy to the school;
- Have a written emergency action plan in place for managing an anaphylactic reaction;
- Have a written individual healthcare plan in place for the prevention and proactive management for the student in all the different school environments he or she may be in, from the classroom to the cafeteria to the bus to field trips.
The emergency action plan is formulated by your physician with your input, based on your child’s history, and specifies what symptoms to look for and what treatments are to be given, as well as contact information and directions for disposition following the reaction. The school nurse usually is responsible for implementing this plan in the event of an actual emergency. This is discussed in greater detail in the section on the school’s responsibility to you.
The general principles of the preventive plan usually include the following:
- The general principles of avoidance followed at home should be applied to the classroom, cafeteria, and all areas where the student may be. Nineteen percent of anaphylactic reactions in Massachusetts schoolchildren occurred outside the school building, on the playground, on the school bus to and from school, and on field trips.
- For areas where food is consumed, hand washing, no food sharing, and the routine cleaning of surfaces where food is prepared and consumed to avoid cross contamination are practices that students and school staff need to learn and use.
- For the classroom, students and staff need to become familiar with the concept of “hidden” peanut ingredients, not only in foods and but also in nonfood items that may be used in classroom projects in arts and crafts, math, and science. Reading the ingredient labels of foods, as well as other items such as bird feeders and pet feed, becomes an additional responsibility of the school teacher and staff.
- There should ideally be a full-time nurse in any school where there are students with life-threatening allergies. If the school nurse is unable to be on site, she should be able to train a designated staff member in the management of anaphylaxis and the use of epinephrine.
- Every student with life-threatening allergies needs to have an epinephrine autoinjector in the school. The epinephrine autoinjector needs to be accessible for quick access within several minutes of a reaction and kept in a secure but unlocked location.
- Emergency communications between all the student’s locations (classroom, cafeteria, gym, playground, etc.) and the school nurse and/or principal’s office should be available. Students, families, teachers, and school staff should all be educated on food allergies, anaphylaxis, and general avoidance principles. The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network is an excellent resource for educational programs for schools and provides many age-specific materials, including videos for children and a very useful kit for school staff and personnel.