ENSURING YOUR CHILD’S SAFETY AT SCHOOL

 Selecting a school environment that not only nurtures your child’s intellectual ability, but also provides an allergen free safe zone will prove to be a challenge for many families.  Be prepared to ask many questions, and allot adequate time to access the school environment.  The following list provides some questions which may be helpful in determining whether or not the school(s) that you are considering are experienced and/or willing to accept the added responsibility of managing your child’s special needs.

  •  Prior to your child’s enrollment request an official meeting with the school principal, nurse, teacher, and cafeteria staff (if your child will be eating school lunches) to address any concerns you may have regarding your child’s special needs.
  • Is there an employee on staff at all times that has cardio pulmonary resuscitation and first and certification? What are the school’s policies for addressing the special needs of their students?
  • Will the instructor(s) of my child ensure that that my child’s Epi-pen/allergy medication is available at all times?
  • Will someone remain with my child at all times that is qualified to administer medications?
  • Is parent’s responsible for supplying snacks and meals, or are they provided by the school?
  • Does the school require children to be seated during the times they are consuming food items?  (note: This can present a problem if your child is severely allergic to a particular food item(i.e. peanuts), due to possible residue being left throughout the room)
  • What is the distance from the classroom to the cafeteria, if your child reacts to airborne food allergens?
  • If food preparation is part of the school’s educational curriculum (most preschool and elementary teachers will implement some type of food preparation as a learning tool); how will my child be kept safe and not feel excluded?  For example, is the teacher willing to make arrangements with another classroom that will be performing a safe activity?  Emphasize to the instructor that it is important that your child does not feel that he/she is being punished, as a result of their special needs.
  •  Use this meeting as an opportunity to establish a written guideline that will remain accessible in your child’s educational file.  This list should include:
      • Child’s name
      • Home address
      • Emergency contact number of family members/friend
      • Child’s pediatrician and allergist (including name, phone number, etc…)
      • List of child’s allergies
      • List of medications both oral and injectable- include guidelines for when and how to administer
      • List of hospitals that are within the school vicinity, which you feel confident are equipped to deal with a life threatening allergic reaction
      • Provisions for a photo of your child to be made available to any substitute teacher prior to assuming responsibility for your child.  This will allow him/her to easily identify your child.


Copyright 2002, DIANE HARTMAN, THE FOOD ALLERGY KITCHEN COOKBOOK, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED