While it is not possible to eliminate risk altogether, certain precautions will diminish risk and allow the anaphylactic child to attend school with relative confidence.
These precautions are intended to be flexible and allow schools and classrooms to adapt to the needs of individual children.
All of the following precautions should be considered in the context of the anaphylactic child’s age and maturity. The school, parents, and student should work together to reduce risks regarding allergens. As children mature, they should become more responsible for avoiding exposure to their specific allergens.
1. Providing allergen-free areas in Elementary Schools
Eliminating food allergens from specified areas within the school will serve to provide safer areas for anaphylactic students.
a. If possible, avoid using the classroom of an anaphylactic child as a lunchroom.
b. If the classroom must be used as a lunchroom, establish it as an “allergen-free” area, using a cooperative approach with students and parents.
c. In the cafeteria noon aides will establish at least one common eating area or a section of the single common eating area-as “allergen-free”.
d. In the cafeteria monitor the designated “allergen-free” areas.
2. Lunchroom and Eating Area Procedures
a. Encourage anaphylactic students to eat only food prepared at home or approved for consumption in the child’s individual emergency health care plan.
b. Discourage the sharing of food, utensils, and containers.
c. Provide lunch-hour supervision for an anaphylactic child.
d. Encourage a hand-washing routine before and after eating.
e. Provide in-service training for cafeteria staff, with special emphasis on identifying food ingredients by their common, technical or scientific names, and training in prevention of cross-contamination.
f. Ensure that tables and other eating surfaces are washed clean after eating, using a cleansing agent and disposable paper towels approved for school use. This is particularly important for peanut-allergic students because of the adhesive nature of peanut butter.
3. Additional Preventive Actions
Not all allergic reactions are a result of exposure to food at meal times.
a. Schoolyard cleanliness contributes to the safety of children with life- threatening allergies. Yard clean-ups will occur after special occasions such as Halloween, or special outdoor school events.
b. Anaphylactic children may not participate in garbage disposal, yard clean- ups, or other activities that could bring them into contact with food wrappers, containers, or debris.
c. As foods are often stored in cubbies, lockers and desks an anaphylactic child must keep the same locker and desk all year.
4. Holidays and Special Celebrations
Food is usually associated with special occasions and events. The following procedures will help protect the anaphylactic child.
a. If foods are to come into the classroom from home, remind parents of the anaphylactic allergens and request that foods be sent in without allergens.
b. Encourage the anaphylactic child to bring food from his/her own home.
c. Suggest that the parent of the anaphylactic child provide the school with a supply of non-perishable treats for those times when other parents send food into the school.
d. Anaphylactic student may not consume food sent in by other families without the express written consent of the student’s parent/guardian.
5. Field Trips
In addition to the usual school safety precautions applying to field trips, the following procedures must be in place to protect the anaphylactic child.
a. All permission slips will include a separate “serious medical conditions” section as a part of the school’s registration/permission forms for all field trips in which the details of the anaphylactic student’s allergens, symptoms, and treatment can be recorded. A copy of this information must be available at any time during the field trip. The child’s parent(s) will be encouraged to serve as a chaperone.
b. Require a chaperone to be aware of the identity of any anaphylactic child, the allergens, symptoms, and treatment for that child/children.
c. Ensure access to a telephone, cell phone, or radio communication in case of emergency.
d. Require the parent of the anaphylactic child to provide at least one Epi-pen (more than one are suggested) to be administered per doctors orders and per Emergency Health Care Plan in applicable cases.
e. Require the regular classroom teacher to keep information about the anaphylactic student’s allergies and emergency procedures at all times.
f. Require the medications be kept on the same bus with the anaphylactic students.
6. School Bus Safety
The following provisions apply to school transportation.
a. The identity of all students with severe health issues will be provided to the director of transportation, who will disseminate the information to the appropriate bus drivers. All bus drivers and substitutes will be trained in emergency response procedures.
b. The school nurse will inform parents that an Epi-pen is to be carried by the anaphylactic student while on the school bus.
c. At the parent’s request, an anaphylactic student shall receive a seat near the front of the bus.
7. Anaphylaxis to Insect Venom
The school is aware that some anaphylactic reactions occur as a result of things over which it has no control such as exposure to bees, hornets, wasps, and yellow-jackets. Nevertheless, certain precautions can be taken by the student and the school to reduce the risk of exposure.
a. School officials will check for the presence of bees and wasps, especially nesting areas on school property, and arrange for their removal.
b. At the parent’s written request, students who are anaphylactic to insect stings will be allowed to remain indoors for recess during bee/wasp season.