Let’s get our school on! There are 2 big goals here: your child must be safe at school and must be included at school. Let’s review where to start:
- Learn how the school manages food allergies. Some schools already have a plan.
- Learn about the voluntary guidelines published by the CDC. There are no standard guidelines for how schools do this.
- Create a food allergy management plan for school. This can be called a 504 Plan.
What is a 504 Plan?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a law that in practice is called a 504 Plan. This is a plan created specifically for your child when in the public school system. It outlines accommodations, aids or services that a student with a disability needs in order to use, and fully participate in a free and appropriate education. Private and religious schools do things a bit differently because not mandated by law.
Wait a second, disability?
It’s just a word. If your child’s doctor believes your child’s food allergy may result in a severe, life-threatening reaction that meets the criteria of disability under Section 504. So embrace it and get a 504 Plan! You may think you don’t need one, but do it.
Some tricks/tips from parents that have been there:
- Start with the Principal.
- Keep your communication trail in writing.
- Be nice. You have to work with these people for many years!
- Think about bringing baked goods to meetings. It can help people relax.
- Do your research and be prepared for all meetings.
- You will have more control when the child is younger. As he/she grows up to middle and high school your child will take on more responsibility. Make sure your requests are age appropriate.
- 24 hour rule. Don’t send that email right away. Take a deep breath!
- Your teacher should be the person navigating other parents and their baked goods, not you.
- Don’t disclose your child has an allergy to everyone. There can be families and friends that need to know, not everyone needs to know.
Kids eat at school. Here are some common ways schools will handle lunch.
- No seating restriction
- Assigned seat
- The Allergy Table
- The Nut table
- The peanut-free table
So there is your very brief quick overview. You’ve got this!