I've been seeing a lot of questions on Facebook about what to do about returning to school safely.
What does a food allergy mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, etc, do about keeping a food allergic child safe when they are planning to have classes eat lunch in the classroom all together? Will it be clean enough? Will they wipe and sterilize the desks? Will they still pay attention to the 504 plans? Do you have a 504 plan? Do you need a 504 plan? These are all very important questions.
First and foremost let me clear something up that I have seen questioned; NO ONE in the school or school district has the right to require you to provide your child's medical records. That is what you sign all those papers for at the Doctors offices. Its call the HIPAA PRIVACY RULE If you need further explanation of what this is go to HHS.gov . The school and nurse can ask for letters from the doctor explaining your child's requirements, and quite frankly, you should have this to provide to back up your requests for accommodations. You should definitely advocate for your child in whatever way you can to make sure they will be in a safe environment throughout the entire day.
I am a big proponent of a 504 plan, especially if your child needs food accommodations. You will need to schedule a meeting with the 504 coordinator in your district, and bring documentation regarding your child's need for the 504. Often you will bring a parent advocate, or someone else from the district; each school system has their own requirements. However, once this 504 is in place, other than the yearly reviews, the school is then mandated, by law, to provide accommodations in some manner for your child.
Educating the classroom teachers about what exactly is true allergen killing sterilizing procedures might be a helpful conversation for you as a parent to have with your teachers. You can simply start by saying, "Did you know that simply using hand sanitizer does not kill allergies?" Perhaps you can work with the school board to help supply classrooms with sanitizing wipes, to be used on children's desks immediately after lunch.
I've suggested to many teachers that during the first week of school (I am East Coast based so school has not yet begun,) that they have students in the lower grades make placemats for their desks and laminate them. Then they should make it into a weekly contest of sorts to see who can keep all of their food on their placemat and not get any on their desks, with some sort of Clean Eater of the Week or Gold Star or something posted in the classroom. Windows and doors of classrooms are required to be open for air flow as it is, and desks are not allowed to be clustered together too much, which will give our kids with anaphylactic allergies more of a chance.
We here at Allie's are here to help. For more information about your rights, and for school help you can contact FAACT : FoodAllergyAwareness.org .
At Allie's we can provide safe healthy certified free from allergen snacks for school. We mean it when we say no child left out. I don't ever want to hear about a child feeling like they are missing out on something great because of a food allergy or celiac disease. This will be a difficult year for all children. This will be an EXTREMELY stressful and difficult year for our celiac families and food allergy families when thinking about returning to school. Let us be a source for you.
Have a Great Day!