And here we go... it is time to give preschool a try. A very exciting time for my child, and a very scary one for me. Letting go, trusting others with his care, trusting him to remember at least some of the things I've been repeating incessantly for the last month. Wash your hands before you eat. Don't drink from the water fountain. Don't share food. Eat only what I send in your backpack. Etc. etc. He is 4! How much can I really rely on him to remember all that?
Luckily, his teacher is wonderful. We met a while back before school started and we talked extensively about making his school experience safe and enjoyable. She listened carefully and understood my concerns, taking them all very seriously. And we both came up with this plan for my son:
- The classroom will be a nut-free area
- There will be an EpiPen in his backpack and one in the classroom.
- She will be the one administering the epinephrine in case of emergency (the school is small and has no nurse on campus).
- He will only eat safe snacks that I will provide and drink only water from his own cup.
- He will wash hands with soap and water, and if that's not possible, he will use baby wipes to clean his hands. No hand sanitizer, as it has been shown that it does not remove peanut residue completely.
- I will provide a safe treat and volunteer at birthday parties as much as I can, to minimize accidental exposure to cupcakes and/or cookies.
- The teacher will have a copy of his food allergy action plan in the classroom.
How about you? What steps have you taken to make school safe for your child? Do you have any tips you could share?
For older kids and high school students, you might find this video useful. It is about a California teenager who developed a peanut allergy at age 15 and about the steps her school put in place to ensure her safety.
Also great to share with your school is this web-based training course created by a team of food allergy experts in cooperation with FAAN and FAI. It is comprehensive, yet easy to understand, and provides examples of real life situations and how to deal with them. It is designed for educators, but anyone can benefit from watching it. Highly recommended.