It’s time to prepare for school with a food allergy and you may feel overwhelmed. When my son was ready for kindergarten, I remember the January prior to his entry was the month that I began conversations with my school on food allergy accommodations. With each new year, it causes me to think about how I can help families just like you prepare for the great meeting of the minds. I decided to do this series of posts: Prepare for School with a Food Allergy, Part 1, Food Allergy School and What Not To Do, Part 2 and What To Do When Your 504 Plan Is Violated, Part 3. I hope you find them to be helpful as you start a new chapter with your child.
10 Steps to Prepare for School with a Food Allergy
1. Investigate and Learn About Food Allergy Rights and Guidelines
Get to know the existing resources that are out there to support you:
- Check out the latest food allergy tool from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: Advocates’ Tool Kit, Making an Impact on Anaphylaxis.
- Does your state have food allergy guidelines in place?
- Does your district or school have an Anaphylaxis or Food Allergy Policy or Guideline in place?
- Review the Centers for Disease Control Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs.
- If your child is attending a public school, or a private school that receives federal funding, your child with food allergies may be eligible for a 504 Plan. Visit your state’s Board of Education website and see if you can download the 504 manual, find the section specific to food allergies.
2. It Takes Nine Months to Have a Baby; Take Nine Months to Forge a Food Allergy Partnership with Your School
To prepare for school with a food allergy, reach out the January prior to when your child will start school. Contact your school principal and district/school nurse/health paraprofessional to introduce yourself and your child. Make it a priority to discuss what school staff members will assist in the development of your child’s Food Allergy Management Plan. Collaborate with staff to finalize the plan prior to the first day of school.
- Typical 504 Team, i.e.: Principal, District and/or School Nurses, 504 Coordinator, Teacher, Specialists, Cafeteria and Recess Monitors, Transportation Company, etc. The titles of individuals will vary from district to district and school to school.
- If your school is public, request a 504 Evaluation Meeting.
- If your school is private, determine if the school receives any federal funding. If yes, then request a 504 Evaluation Meeting.
- If your school is private and receives no Federal funding, then request a Food Allergy Management meeting so accommodations can be determined.