Thursday, January 7, 2010

Parents and Teachers Must be Vigilant about Kids’ Allergies

At my school, parents must fill out many forms at the beginning of the school year, all designed to keep the students as safe as possible. One of those forms is dedicated to allergies. It is vitally important that parents take the time to be thorough with this information, and that teachers take the time to read it and follow it strictly.

Many years ago I taught a student who suddenly broke out in a horrendous rash. We immediately called her mother, who came to school right away. We explained that the kids had just eaten their snack, and when we spoke with the children, we found out that the child had eaten another student’s peanut. It turned out that she was allergic to them. The unbelievable part of the story is that this mother hadn’t informed us that her daughter was allergic to peanuts.

This couldn’t happen today because our school is peanut free, and the awareness of the dangers of peanut allergies is high. Yet, there are so many new allergies that children have today that as teachers, we must be vigilant that children aren’t eating anything they shouldn’t have.

That’s not always easy to do. Room parents often bring in snacks for parties and special occasions. Parents bake cupcakes for their children’s birthdays to share with the class. It is always possible that there’s some contamination within a person’s kitchen. For example, maybe one of their kids ate peanut butter and a tiny bit was left on the counter where the cookies were placed to cool. No one meant for peanut residue to attach to that cookie, but it could happen. When you read the labels of most chocolate chip or M&M bags, there’s a warning that they were manufactured in a plant that also makes peanut products.

Allergies are very scary, especially in young children. Together we must all work to keep them safe.

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