With the school year half over, now is the time to update or address any ongoing issues at school. You may also need to restock essential supplies, be it updated medications or safe treats for class celebrations.
At this point of the school year, you probably have a pretty good idea of how your school is handling food allergies. If there can be improvements made, now is the time to say so. After all, teachers have now had an opportunity to see how often food is brought into the classroom, often with no forewarning.
I hope you'll check out my Chicago Parent article about food allergies in the classroom. These tips can be used all year long.
Here are some things that may need an update as the school year begins its second half:
Check with the Health Office regarding meds. Are all of your child's medications up to date and unexpired? This can include epinephrine autoinjectors, of course, but also anihistamines and asthma medications. You will also want to make sure any new staff are up-to-date on medication usage.
Are food allergy policies being followed consistently? Something tells me I'm going to get a lot of mail on this point. :) By now you've had experiences in the classroom, both good and bad, that will alert you to what procedures are taking place. You may need to issue some reminders and just be aware of what goes on at parties and such. For example, I volunteer each year to send food to the classroom for my daughter's parties but others always send food at the last minute and guess what--it's usually unsafe. Other times, lunch room policies go by the wayside or class size prevents safe lunch-eating areas for allergic kids. If you notice any problems, now is the time to discuss your concerns with your child's teacher and/or school admin.
Send in a new stock of safe treats. Even though our school doesn't allow b-day treats, sometimes treats are offered for unexpected rewards or celebrations. Ask your child's teacher to store some safe treats for your child to turn to if a surprise treat is offered at school. If your child is older, have them keep some packaged treats in their locker or backpack.
Evaluate what is working and what isn't. You and your child's teacher and other admin if necessary may need to make some adjustments based on experiences you've had in the first half of the year. In fact, expect this because you can't know what every situation will entail. If you feel some things should be changed, don't delay in scheduling time to talk to your child's teacher or other school staff.
A final word: a lot of people ask me what to do if schools don't "get" food allergies. Unfortunately, every school is different but one thing remains the same. You are your child's best advocate and if you really feel that something is endangering your child, please speak up. Some problems can't be solved overnight but opening a dialogue is a good first step.