With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life allergen-free.

18 January 2012

Schools, Substitutes, Epipens...

In the last couple years, I've worked as an apprentice teacher and a substitute teacher. This experience, so far, has given me an interesting perspective on what could happen with food allergic children during the school day. Every class I substitute in has a different situation food allergy-wise. I work in different classrooms, in several districts, and I don't see any consistency within schools or districts about how substitute teachers are informed about children's life threatening allergies (or asthma, or even diabetes). 

As a sub, you are lucky if there is a lesson plan for the day. Information on potentially serious medical problems? Not so much. In one class, the teacher not only left plans, but actually left a folder with copies of the students' emergency allergy plans and their photos! That was great! There were, however, no epipens in the classroom and no indication of where the epipens were. There also were no simple easy-to-find directions on what to do to get help, in case of an emergency. How do you reach the nurse? Do they really expect a child with a serious allergic reaction to walk to the nurse's office? In another classroom, at another school, a set of epipens were kept near the door of the classroom in a bag, but I was given no instructions about what to do other than carry them every time we left the classroom. These two days were the exceptions. Most days, I receive no information about allergies. I quickly figured out which students had asthma because they were wheezing after gym class and asked to go to the nurse. I really believe it would be in the students' best interest if their substitute teachers--at least at the elementary level--were informed about which students have asthma, diabetes, or life threatening allergies, and I'm sure I'm leaving out many other serious medical conditions too. 

The substitute teacher angle is just one problem. As you know, there are a multitude of issues in the schools we can work on. I'd love to hear what your child's school does when there is a substitute teacher! Leave me a comment and let me know. 
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