It is back to school time!
I know we are all wondering what this new school year will bring in terms of schooling and managing food allergies during the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is always a flurry of things that we need to do to keep our children safe, for those who have children with food allergies.
Here list a list of friendly Back to School reminders for you and your family.
- Consult your Allergist: If you have not done this already, it is NEVER too late.
Pick up the phone and contact your Board Certified Allergist.
Your allergist will:
a) Refill your Allergy Medications (Epinephrine Auto-injectors)
b) Provide you with your annual Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Plan for you to distribute to all caregivers (schools, nurses, etc.). The purpose of this Food Allergy Plan is that we want school personnel to know your child’s allergies, signs, and symptoms of an allergic reaction, knowledgeable on how and when to use an epi-pen.
c) Provide further information and direction on the management of your current food allergies.
- Partnership with School Personnel: Call and set up a meeting with your school personnel. The goal of this meeting would be for the school to learn more about your child and their needs regarding food allergies. Secondly, it would provide you and your family an opportunity to familiarize yourself with your school’s food allergy policies. You can discuss whether a 504 plan is right for you and your family. A 504 plan is a type of plan written by the school in collaboration with a student and his family with the ultimate goal of providing a safe education with concomitant food allergies.
- Food Allergy Policies: Be knowledgeable on how your school manages allergic reactions. All medications should be kept in a secure place so that staff delegated and trained to use epinephrine can use them quickly. The medications also need to be easily accessible. It is important that teachers, nurses, cafeteria staff, coaches, etc., can recognize the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction. When your child is wearing a mask, it might be difficult for the provider to assess if there is a facial rash or facial swelling. These are all things that we need to think about as we navigate school this year.
- Strict Handwashing: Remind your child about Strict Handwashing always before/after meals with soap and water. Since gel sanitizer has not been shown to remove the allergen, we recommend strict handwashing with soap and water. In addition, cleaning surfaces with a detergent agent before and after meals and avoiding sharing food is a common policy.
- Safe Snacks: Parents who have children in elementary school can consider bringing in ”safe snacks” and “safe treats” to leave with their teachers. This is helpful, so your child has something to eat during birthday parties and other school events. It is important that your child feels included in all events and not isolated.
- Teach your child to advocate for themselves: I think this might be my most important tip. As soon as developmentally appropriate, teach your child how to read labels, how to ask questions that relate to their food allergy and how to use their epinephrine auto-injector. It is clear that those in the infancy stage and preschool stage cannot advocate for themselves. In this case, we rely on our teachers, Preschool childcare personal, cafeteria staff to help to keep our children safe.
Food Allergy Management cannot be a “one size fits all approach.”
Every situation is unique, and the Schools, Allergists, and Parents need to work together to provide a safe environment for our children.