Depending on when your school year begins, many of us have bought our backpacks, pencils, shoes and other school must-haves, but as we know, nut-free parents have a few more items to cross off our lists before sending out little darlings out the door.
Some of the following items are important if your child is a new student to the school (e.g. an initial meeting with the principal) and some will need to be done ever year (like providing medical forms an updated food allergy action plans). Before the First Day, be sure you have checked the following items off of your list:
•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 epinephrine auto-injector usage.
• Make sure all medication is current and/or not about to expire soon.
•Have at least 2 epinephrine auto-injectors for school--one for the health office and one for your child's classroom.
•Invest in a fanny pack or other carrier for your child to carry their medication in.
•Make sure you have all of your doctor's notes and food allergy action plans filled out and ready to go. Be sure to initiate a meeting with the school nurse or district nurse to discuss emergency procedures (this can be combined with the principal meeting for convenience.) Include a recent photo of your child that can be glued/taped onto their emergency plan. FAAN has free, downloadable Food Allergy Action Plans on their website.
•Write a letter to your child's new teacher explaining their condition and offering to be the "Treats Parent" for the school year. If you're not the Room Parent, get their name, phone number and e-mail so you can contact the person (or persons) in charge 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.
•Make sure your child has a MedicAlert or other medical I.D. bracelet and invest in additional "awareness" bracelets such as those found at Allermates. If your child feels fashionable, they will be more excited about wearing them.
Whew! That's my list...what do some of you have on yours? If I left out anything important, please let me know!