Sending your child with food allergies anywhere without you can cause worry. Will they eat something that contains their allergen? What if they’re accidentally exposed? When you go into new situations, like back to school, with a plan — it can help relieve some of that anxiety.
For your child’s safety, there are a few key areas to consider before going back to school — the nurses’ office, the classroom, and the lunchroom. Of course, the list goes on (field trips, bus rides, after school activities, and more) but here we provide a few starting points for the overwhelmed parent.
First things first: consider what you may need for the nurses’ office. Top of mind is emergency medication — or epinephrine — in case of a severe reaction. It’s always good to also provide a supply of daily allergy medication for minor symptoms.
If your child has asthma, an inhaler is a must. If topical reactions are common, you may consider bringing a topical cream that you know works for your child, and one that they’re comfortable with.
Allergy treatment is another item to alert the healthcare staff of. If your child is using allergy drops through Allergychoices, you may have a bottle in the nurses’ office to receive a daily dose during school hours. Didn’t know there was a safe, personalized treatment for food allergies? Learn more about it on our website.
When it comes to the classroom, it’s best to determine the school’s general policy on food in the classroom, as well as the specific teacher’s normal routine. Sometimes food is allowed for snack time or celebrations, so it’s recommended to have a face-to-face conversation with the teacher and your child to explain the allergy and provide recommended adjustments.
Remember that if food is allowed in the classroom, it’s not over the top to ask for the room to be allergen free. Most parents and staff will be happy to omit certain ingredients to keep all students feeling included and safe.
It can be frightening to send your child into a lunchroom without you there. It’s important to ask how the lunchroom functions for kids with food allergies, and how staff will help keep your child safe from exposure.
- Are the kids sitting in designated spots every day? Or can they sit wherever they’d like?
- Is there a “no food sharing” policy for all students?
- How many staff members monitor the lunchroom, and are they trained on the signs of a food allergy reaction?
- Where is the closest epinephrine autoinjector, and are staff trained to administer it?
Of course, you’ll also have to decide if your child will eat hot lunch provided by the school, or if you will pack a lunch for them to enjoy. Those that go the school lunch route should notify the lunchroom staff at least a month before the start of school to ensure your child will have safe options come the first day.
It’s also a good idea to ask the staff to require handwashing after lunch to reduce the amount of the allergen potentially reaching the classroom — think about a hand with bits of peanut butter grabbing a marker out of a bucket. It may seem small, but you understand the reality of even the smallest exposure.
It can all seem so overwhelming but remember that your child’s safety is not a burden. This toolkit by the CDC is a great resource to provide your school with information on the importance of food allergy safety for most positions in the school — from superintendent to transportation staff.
Ready to take the leap and start treating the cause and changing the disease?
Start by finding a provider near you that is trained in using allergy drop treatment — personalized just for you — following the La Crosse Method Protocol.