If you have a food allergic child entering school for the first time next fall, you should start thinking now about what you and your child require to keep him/her safe. Children with food allergies are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and accommodations must be made by schools. If funding is involved, your child will need a 504 Plan which is typically done with the Special Education Administrator. If there is no funding, a Healthcare Plan may be fine.
Take some time now to write down what you need and then arrange a meeting with the principal, school nurse, and others if necessary. This is your meeting so be prepared with your questions and requests. Some areas I addressed during my meeting:
How are teachers and staff educated to deal with food allergies?
Where will life-saving medications be stored? I also informed the school that my kindergartner would carry his own Epi-Pen in a waist-pack.
How are medications handled on field trips?
What is the procedure for medications in the event of a fire drill? I wanted to know if the nurse took medications out of the building in the event students were kept outside for a long period of time.
How will the bus driver be aware of food allergies and are they trained in how to handle them?
How will classrooms be kept safe? I requested that the principal send a letter home to parents at the beginning of the year informing them that their child has a classmate with food allergies. I also asked that all students in the class wash their hands after lunch and snack.
The school will probably require documentation from your child's allergist as well. Planning ahead will ensure a smooth transition to school next fall.
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