ALLERGY AWARENESS ON SCHOOL AGENDAS

Schools have to be increasingly aware of food allergy issues. Nut allergies are of particular concern. It seems more and more children are becoming nut sensitive. Recess and lunch box contents can be an issue.

“With severe allergies on the rise, no childcare centre, pre-school or school can afford to be uninformed about the risks to children in their care. They need to arm themselves with information on food allergy and anaphylaxis and create environments that are safer for all.” (Allergy and Anaphylaxis Aust. Website)

Until about 20 years ago, very few schools had policies that considered the risk of food allergies. This has changed. Most schools, particularly preschools in primary’s have policies relating to allergic sensitivities that can confront children.

The most common of these allergies is that relating to the susceptibility of some children to fall violently ill, if they come into contact with nuts. Many schools advertise that they are “nut free zones”. Parents are frequently asked to take into account the fact that foods including nuts and sandwich spreads containing nuts should not be included in children’s recesses and lunches.

While this is restrictive parents for the most part accept that nut contamination could have far reaching consequences for susceptible children.

Two way awareness

It is important for care and caution to be a two way process. Children who are nut allergic should understand their condition. It’s important that they take care to steer clear of any food danger. I believe the children from very young ages, including those in preschool, should be aware of the need for self-preservation.

From time to time there is a worry that children suffering from allergies might be teased or even threatened with contamination. This is usually an unnecessary fear. One of the qualities demonstrated by children is a genuine empathy and care for those whose circumstances are confronted in this way. It’s wise for teachers and children in all classes to be aware of children who may suffer from allergic reaction to nuts.

Schools in which all staff and therefore students are aware of an allergy situation can offer support. A further safeguard is for teachers and school support staff to have epipen training so this can be administered in the case of an emergency.

Nut consciousness and allergy awareness is the part and parcel of modern education. It’s just another duty of care responsibility existing for schools and staff. That duty is helped when parents and students cooperate to help make school environments safe, secure places for all students.

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