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School Tips:

  • I would like to see all schools peanut-aware – and by definition of that – I want NO children to be allowed to bring nut products to school at anytime. But at the same time recognizing that there is always risk – and just because a child brings a non-peanut butter sandwich to school doesn’t mean it is not still a cross-contaminated sandwich. Therefore – it could not be considered “free” of nuts. Many schools are afraid to call themselves "nut-free" for the above stated reason, therefore, they find it easier to do as little as possible. Once a facility knows you realize there is always risk - but would appreciate every effort to be aware they will likley try to comply.

  • There have been many many articles supplied by schools and other organizations that say if your child goes to a peanut-free school, they will be lulled into a false sense of security and become to assume that everything is safe around them. I ABSOLUTELY do not believe this is true. Yes - they will be safer at school and they will likley feel that way - but under no circumstances do I believe they will begin taking risks because of this. We all know our children - I know for a fact that even though my son's school is peanut-free, he still washes his hands, doesn't share and keep his hands away from his mouth.
    It becomes a habit they live daily - it doesn't go away in safety.

  • Make sure the school knows they will NOT have time to wait for you or for medical help. The child will often be unable to self-administer the medication due to the severity of the symptoms. Ensure the school knows they will have to administer the adrenaline immediately upon symptoms.

  • Have a picture of the child, a list of his allergies and typical signs of reaction in an easily accessible place in each classroom the child will be in. If there is a substitute teacher teaching the class, this information must be readily available to that person.

  • Virtually all schools have peanut-free areas for allergic children to eat, find out the schools policy on what peanut-free means to them - your child sitting outside the staff room with his EpiPen® in his lunch bag is not good enough. It could be a huge blow to his self-esteem - make sure their policy is not punishing for the allergic child.

  • When eating in a cafeteria or classroom, always ensure you are prepared for a potential reaction by having your liquid antihistamine and EpiPen®'s with you.

  • Have a written policy in place with the school stating who can administer the injection, and how each aspect of the situation will be handled in case of emergency. All schools should have these forms available for you to fill out and review with them. See Tools for additional forms to use at your school.

  • Help to educate the teachers and students of the school - speak at an assembly - keep in mind that you don't need to single out your child, you can speak in general terms.

  • Send information home with the students by way of letter or in a newsletter to help educate their parents. The more aware people are of the seriousness the better able they are to assist by sending appropriate lunches and snacks for their children.

  • Residue of peanut material on shared resources such as; keyboards, railings, door handles, sink taps etc. may create a reaction. Always consider this.

  • Supply the school with an extensive list of safe snacks, puddings, treats and lunch items that they can forward on as suggestions to other families. The hardest part about being nut-free is the effort it takes to do it. Alleviate the effort for those who feel it is "not their problem" and you may be pleased with the result!

For more tips on staying safe at school, see the Peanut Allergy Handbook.

 
 
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