School starts next week for many of us, so I thought now would be a good time to offer a "short" (ha, ha!) checklist of things to do before the Big Day. New students (kindergarten) and those of us who will be entering a new school due to a move (like me!) will want to do the following:
- Speak with the principal (preferably in person) to let them know your family's needs. Ask them if they can include an item in the first parents' newsletter about food allergies at school and basic precautions to take (offer to write it, if they don't have time.)
- Work out a cafeteria plan if necessary. For example, will there be a dedicated peanut-free table? If not, what precautions will be taken for your child's safety? Can you introduce a peanut-free table if one does not yet exist, for kids who haven't brought peanut butter or nut products?
- Find out (from health office or principal) who is trained in EpiPen usage.
- Speaking of EpiPens--make sure your prescription is current and that you sign up for the new EpiPen registery (a form is included in your prescription.) It lets you know when your Epis are about to expire.
- Have at least 2 EpiPens for school--one for the health office and one for your child's classroom.
- Invest in a fanny pack or pencil case with attachment for your child to carry their EpiPen in.
- Make sure you have all of your doctor's notes and food allergy action plans filled out and ready to go. If you need to, initiate a meeting with the school nurse or district nurse to discuss emergency procedures. Include a recent photo of your child that can be glued/taped onto their emergency plan.
- Write a letter to your child's new teacher explaining their condition and offering to be the "Treats Lady" for the school year. If you're not the Room Mother, get her name, phone number and e-mail so you can contact her about food before the first class party.
- If your school allows birthday party treats in the classroom (our new school doesn't!), make sure you send a "treats bag" with safe goodies with your child on their first day.
I know it's a lot to take care of, but you know what? Looking over this list, I'm kind of proud of how much I've already done and how, now that I've done it for so many years, it's not that big of a deal. Progress!
If I've stressed anyone out, I think Mamma Mia! is still in theaters. (OK, just kidding!) Anyone up for a martini yet? It'll be OK. Just be thankful we only have to do this once a year!