Back to School: What Educators Need to Know About Students With Severe Allergies
Kids spend a lot of time at school under the care of teachers and other staff members. If your child has severe allergies, it's important that these caregivers know how to manage allergies and handle emergencies while your young one is away from home. Here's how you can work with school personnel to keep your child safe.
Give the school staff a written treatment plan for your child's allergies. Be sure to include:
A list of allergy symptoms
Phone numbers to call in case of an emergency
Medications that your child takes
Your child's allergy triggers
Any other information that will help school personnel care for your child's allergies
Children with severe allergies should also have an additional plan that outlines what to do in case of an emergency. In addition to the information above, make sure it includes:
Contact information for your child's doctor
Directions to call 911 first, before calling any emergency contact phone numbers
The name of your child's emergency medication and how to administer it
The symptoms of anaphylaxis, a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction
Where emergency medication is located
Everyone who looks after your child at the school needs a copy of these plans. This includes teachers, recess and lunch supervisors, bus drivers, coaches, and the school nurse.
It's a good idea to meet with school caregivers in person. Review your child's treatment plans. Let staff know how they can help your child manage his or her allergies.
Be sure everyone who cares for your child knows what to do in case of an emergency. Show them how to give epinephrine, a hormone that opens up airways, in the case of a life-threatening reaction. And make sure they know to call 911.
State laws dictate how medications can be stored and administered at school. Some states allow children to carry epinephrine in a backpack or pocket. Most states have laws that allow children to carry inhalers at school with a doctor's OK. If your state's laws say that your child cannot carry lifesaving medication, be sure it is readily available in case of an emergency.
The school will probably also need you to fill out permission forms. One form will allow staff members to give your child medication if necessary. Another form gives your child permission to carry his or her medication, if allowed by law.
Approximately 4% to 6% of children in the U.S. have food allergies. Food allergies are the most common cause of life-threatening allergic reactions in youth. The only way to prevent them is to avoid the offending food. Ask the staff to consider ways to limit your child's contact with the food. They may consider an allergen-free zone, such as a spare classroom, where students with food allergies can eat. Or they may be willing to ban the food completely.
Nothing you do can guarantee your child will avoid an allergic reaction at school. But by working with the school staff, you can feel confident that your child is safe.
It's important that teachers and staff members at your child's school know how to manage allergies and handle emergencies if your child has severe allergies.
Give the school staff a written treatment plan for your child's allergies.
Prepare an emergency action plan and provide it to the school.
Meet with school staff members to review your child's treatment plans.