Does one of your students have a diagnosed food allergy? Follow these tips for a safe and inclusive classroom.
Attitude and Approach
- Communication is key to keeping students with food allergies safe. Work with parents, the school nurse and other personnel throughout the school year.
- Be a role model. Respect the needs of students with food allergies and reinforce the school’s rules against discrimination and bullying.
- Determine if you need to modify any classroom setups, procedures or activities. You want to make sure that students with food allergies can fully participate.
- Avoid using identified allergens in the classroom. This goes for class projects, parties, holidays and celebrations, arts, crafts, science experiments, cooking lessons, snacks and rewards. Change your class materials as needed.
- Consider allergy-friendly seating arrangements in the cafeteria. This way children with food allergies have a designated safe place to eat but aren’t isolated.
- Encourage children to wash hands before and after they handle or consume food.
- Give non-food incentives for prizes, gifts and awards.
- Determine if the intended location for a field trip is safe for students with food allergies. If it is not safe and you cannot make accommodations, you might have to change or cancel the trip. Students cannot be excluded from field trips because of food allergies.
- Avoid ordering food from restaurants. Food allergens can appear in unexpected places, and cross-contact is all too common.
- Leave information about students with special needs, including those with known food allergies, in your instructions to substitute teachers.
If A Reaction Happens
- Always have easy and quick access to epinephrine auto-injectors.
- If you suspect a severe food allergy reaction or anaphylaxis, take immediate action. Follow your school’s food allergy management emergency response protocol.