There is usually a lot of focus on food allergies at the beginning of each school year, but a mid-year reminder doesn’t hurt, especially as we head into the big food holidays from Halloween all the way through Valentine’s Day.
Know which students have allergies and what those allergies are
Make sure this is communicated to substitute teachers and classroom volunteers. Having a photo of the student in a file is helpful.
Be familiar with what that student’s allergic response may look like
Usually parents have had some kind of experience with exposure to the allergen. Find out how the student reacted. Always take symptoms seriously. If a student says that he or she doesn't feel well, you may only have a minute to prepare for serious intervention. A strong partnership with the parent can only be helpful and informative.
Avoid food in lesson plans, classroom projects, as rewards or incentives or in celebrations
It’s just not worth the risk. Pencils and erasers are wonderful incentives. Stickers and temporary tattoos are always appreciated! If there is a classroom pet, do not forget to check out the ingredient label on the pet food. Be sure to think of any exposures that could inadvertently happen on a field trip and ask parents about their concerns.
Do not single these students out or treat them differently
If the classroom is allergen-free and the adult helpers are all aware, there is simply no reason to do anything else. Your classroom is as safe as it can be!