Back to School: What Educators Need to Know About Students With Severe Allergies


Amy Rushlow

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Kids spend a lot of time at school under the care of teachers and other staff members. If your child has severe allergies, it's important that these caregivers know how to manage allergies and handle emergencies while your young one is away from home. Here's how you can work with school personnel to keep your child safe.

Write and Share an Allergy Treatment Plan

Give the school staff a written treatment plan for your child's allergies. Be sure to include:

  • A list of allergy symptoms

  • Phone numbers to call in case of an emergency

  • Medications that your child takes

  • Your child's allergy triggers

  • Any other information that will help school personnel care for your child's allergies

Prepare a Written Emergency Plan

Children with severe allergies should also have an additional plan that outlines what to do in case of an emergency. In addition to the information above, make sure it includes:

  • Contact information for your child's doctor

  • Directions to call 911 first, before calling any emergency contact phone numbers

  • The name of your child's emergency medication and how to administer it

  • The symptoms of anaphylaxis, a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction

  • Where emergency medication is located

You can download an anaphylaxis action plan from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology here.
Everyone who looks after your child at the school needs a copy of these plans. This includes teachers, recess and lunch supervisors, bus drivers, coaches, and the school nurse.  

Meet With School Staff

It's a good idea to meet with school caregivers in person. Review your child's treatment plans. Let staff know how they can help your child manage his or her allergies.

Be sure everyone who cares for your child knows what to do in case of an emergency. Show them how to give epinephrine, a hormone that opens up airways, in the case of a life-threatening reaction. And make sure they know to call 911.

Medications at School: What Educators Need from You

State laws dictate how medications can be stored and administered at school. Some states allow children to carry epinephrine in a backpack or pocket. Most states have laws that allow children to carry inhalers at school with a doctor's OK. If your state's laws say that your child cannot carry lifesaving medication, be sure it is readily available in case of an emergency.

The school will probably also need you to fill out permission forms. One form will allow staff members to give your child medication if necessary. Another form gives your child permission to carry his or her medication, if allowed by law.

Take Special Precautions With Food Allergies

Approximately 4% to 6% of children in the U.S. have food allergies. Food allergies are the most common cause of life-threatening allergic reactions in youth. The only way to prevent them is to avoid the offending food. Ask the staff to consider ways to limit your child's contact with the food. They may consider an allergen-free zone, such as a spare classroom, where students with food allergies can eat. Or they may be willing to ban the food completely.

Nothing you do can guarantee your child will avoid an allergic reaction at school. But by working with the school staff, you can feel confident that your child is safe.

Key Takeaways

  • It's important that teachers and staff members at your child's school know how to manage allergies and handle emergencies if your child has severe allergies.

  • Give the school staff a written treatment plan for your child's allergies.

  • Prepare an emergency action plan and provide it to the school.

  • Meet with school staff members to review your child's treatment plans.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 30, 2016

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View Sources

Medical References

  1. Back to school with allergies and asthma. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Accessed August 27, 2014.
  2. Ten steps to a safe school year for kids with allergies and asthma. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Accessed August 27, 2014.
  3. Food allergies in schools. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed August 27, 2014.
  4. Voluntary guidelines for managing food allergies in schools and early care and education programs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed August 27, 2014.
  5. Jackson KD, Howie LD, and Akinbami LJ. Trends in allergic conditions among children: United States, 1997-2011. NCHS Data Brief. 2013:121;1-7.
  6. Anaphylaxis, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. National Institutes of Health. Accessed September 1, 2014.
  7. Safe at school and ready to learn: a comprehensive policy guide for protecting students with life-threatening food allergies. National School Board Association. Accessed August 27, 2014.
  8. Anaphylaxis emergency action plan. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Accessed September 1, 2014.

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