It’s that time of year again…back to school. Time to bring out the back packs, restock the pencil cases, and assess the state of the running shoes.
Heading back to school with children with multiple food allergies, however, adds an extra element to the checklist…..ensuring anaphylaxis management strategies for my boys food allergies and asthma are in place for their personal safety.
Back to School Checklist
1) Epi pens:
One for my child to be worn in a Kozi Epi Pen holder. (Matthew)
One for my child to be placed in a Kozi Epi Pen holder and carried in his backpack at all times. (Michael)
One for the school office to be kept in an unlocked location. (both children)
One for the classroom to be tacked up on the bulletin board with his medical information form. (only applies to Matthew)
2) Airomir Puffers:
One to be left in the classroom with his extra epi pen. (Matthew)
One to be left in the school office and one carried in his Kozi Epi Pen holder. (Michael)
Medical Information Sheet and Individual Student Plan
On the first day of school, I visit my boys’ school offices to reintroduce myself to the secretary, principal, and in Matthew’s case, his Grade 8 teacher. I drop off their epi pens and puffers, and pick up a Medical Information Sheet and Individual Student Plan. At the start of each new school year I update their medical information, picture and emergency procedure for an anaphylaxis reaction.
Matthew (peanut/tree nut allergy) is starting Grade 8. His Medical Information Sheet will be posted in the office, in his classroom with the extra epi pen, in the supply teacher’s file, and in the staff room. His Individual Student Plan is kept in the office.
Once I have reviewed and updated his Individual Student Plan, I attach a covering letter outlining Matthew’s peanut/tree nut allergy and his exercise induced asthma. A list of the teachers he will be in contact with is at the bottom of the page. The Individual Student Plan is passed between the teachers. Once they have reviewed it, they sign their name and pass it along to the next name on the list. A copy of his latest skin testing is on file.
In this way, I am assured that the teachers that come in contact with Matthew are aware of his medical information and anaphylaxis emergency plan, before it is filed away in the office.
All the Grade 8’s will be in the same class this year. Matthew’s teacher will be the same as last year. (Michael’s Grade 8 teacher too) Fantastic!
Matthew’s teacher is well versed (3 years in a row) with our safety procedure. I will review with his teacher the basic safety precautions that have been followed successfully throughout the years.
Safety Measures for the Classroom
Matthew is the only student to eat at his desk.
Matthew keeps the same desk for the year.
Matthew is not to eat anything outside of the food that is sent from home.
Food outside the home must be approved by his parents.
Matthew is to wash his hands before and after eating.
Matthew’s Grade 8 teacher has invited me to speak to the class about food allergies and anaphylaxis. (I spoke to Michael’s Grade 8 class as well) I will be writing a blog on my Grade 8 presentation.
Michael (dairy, egg, peanut/tree nut, beef, sesame, fish, shellfish,and raspberry) is entering Grade 10. Michael was a trailblazer on his journey from JK to Grade 8. (separate blogs for later) It came as no surprise, when entering Grade 9, that he was the first student to ask for a Medical Information Sheet and Individual Student Plan. They had neither.
I created our own Medical Information Sheet on Michael, to be posted in the staff room, office and to each of his 4 teachers with one for the Supply Teacher File. I also provided a copy of his latest skin testing to keep on file in the office.
Luckily, I had an extra Individual Student Plan, from the elementary school, that I filled out. I attached a covering letter for the teachers to sign off on when they had completed reading it. Michael passed it on to each of his teachers until it was filed in the office. This procedure was followed in Term 2 with his 4 new teachers.
At the start of the Michael’s Grade 9 school year, he was introduced to the head of the cafeteria (she wanted to meet Michael) by the Vice Principal. He was given a tour and determined that he did not feel comfortable ordering anything from the menu. Michael brought his lunch to school for the entire school year.
There are great resources out there for preparing for back to school with children with food allergies and asthma. Please click on the organizations below to check them out. They certainly have helped me.
Update: Michael enjoyed a successful Grade 9 school year! All his teacher’s were very receptive to the information I presented to them via the Medical Information Sheet and Student Individual Plan.
A couple of weeks into the school year, I had a chance to meet with each of his first semester teacher’s at an evening event whereby parents walked through a typical day of their student’s timetable. It was a great opportunity to introduce myself and hand out Michael’s Medical Information Sheet.
Michael handed out the Medical Information Sheets to his second semester teacher’s. I was able to meet with them at Parent Interview Night…one of his teacher’s had a child with a peanut/tree nut allergy. The teacher was impressed with Michael’s medical information package…the teacher gave me their full support!
How do you inform and educate school staff regarding your child/children’s food allergies?