It’s here! My kids are headed back to school in a week and I’m gathering their things to get them ready. Before school begins I usually set up a time the day before to speak briefly with the school nurse, my son’s teachers, and the front office. Here’s what I do:
School Nurse: I’ve already renewed my FA son’s epinephrine prescriptions which, along with a bottle of Benadryl, his emergency action plan from his doctor and an inhaler, are packaged, labeled and ready to be dropped off at the school nurse’s office. I plan on reviewing the action plan with her (as usual) and discussing a few changes to his health. A big one: he outgrew his dairy allergy over the summer!
Teacher: I’ve gathered replacement snacks for those times in class when treats are brought in. Although a nut-free school, it can be hard to determine when snacks are sesame seed-free. So, I have a few boxes of his favorite cookies and a few packages of rice cakes (his favorite snack) so no one is caught by surprise. This helps for in-class birthdays, changes in the snack schedule, and special occasions like class celebrations.
Now’s a good time to establish the best way for the teacher to communicate with me and when about food allergies. I try to give him/her a few examples (outside of the obvious) of when it would be important for me to know about a food related project in advance, such a field trips, special occasion days (like Colonial Day, at our school), and science projects that involve food (e.g. examining acorns, etc).
Front Office: I speak with the secretary in our elementary school’s front office before the start of each year to ensure that the snacks that our school provides are safe for my son. Thankfully, the school is careful and thoughtful about their choices and the snacks have mostly been safe each year. That said, it’s worth reading all the labels again before school begins so I can discuss with both my son’s teacher and my son which snacks are NOT okay to serve him.
My Son: Now is also a good time to gently review some symptoms of a food allergic reaction with my son and remind him what he should do:
- Symptoms: if you see hives, feel sick after eating (even if it’s been a little while), are starting to cough a bunch or feel funny when you swallow – stop anything you’re doing and act!
- Get an adult’s attention, even if that means interrupting them in conversation or teaching;
- Go to the nurse immediately.
I remind him that he shouldn’t bother wondering what’s going on by himself, I’d rather he just let the nurse figure out if this is a stomach ache or something she needs to treat another way.
Back to school can be easy and exciting with just a little advance preparation!
For more things you can do to get ready for a safe school year, read Back to School Food Allergy Checklist.