If your child has food allergies, they are most likely entitled to having a 504 plan in place at their school. I have been slowly working on doing Caleb’s 504 planning for next year. I meant to have his done after the start of school last fall, but with Jacob’s cancer diagnosis, it was forgotten/put on the back-burner, and we are finally getting it taken care of now. By doing it now, we will have it in place and ready for the fall when school resumes! A 504 Plan refers to the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973~ “a civil rights law that protects the right of all people with disabilities to participate fully in society. The law applies to any program or activity offered by an agency or organization that receives federal funds, including schools. The law requires that schools provide reasonable accommodations for children with disabilities so that they can fully participate in regular education classes with their peers. A 504 Plan ensures that all children receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The 504 Plan is a written document prepared by a child’s school that outlines the school’s obligation to provide reasonable accommodations for a student.”
I am pleased with our schools willingness to make accommodations, and to respect my concerns. We had our first official 504 meeting over a month ago. It was attended by myself, the school nurse, guidance counselor, asst. principal, and Caleb’s kindergarten teacher. Our guidance counselor then went to work coming up with a drafted plan. This was reviewed by the school’s team, then I was given a draft for review. I was very pleased with what they had prepared, as it did include much of what we discussed in our initial meeting. I tweaked the plan slightly, only adding a few things that reinforced or built up what they had in place. I am actively engaging in discussions with our school and district to work towards building upon, and standardizing the districts food allergy policies and procedures. I am hopeful that we can get standardized policies in place to help protect ALL kids! With this in mind our guidance counselor agreed that it would be beneficial to show you a generic example of a 504 plan that you are welcome to copy and share with your schools to help form your own 504 plans. Some of these may need to be adjusted if your child is older, or if your school still allows peanuts/tree-nuts [GASP!] ~ but this will give you an idea and some things to consider for your own 504 Plan meetings! Best of Luck!~ Jenny
The Team believes that the following accommodations or related aids and services are necessary for the student to access and benefit from his or her educational program:
The Student’s placement into ___ grade will be carefully considered with regard to the classroom environment, and placement with other students whose families have been supportive and receptive in their understanding of allergy risks.
The school will: (state action and person responsible)
a. provide the entire staff with information re: Student, offending allergens, symptoms of allergic reactions and emergency procedures, and the [school district] [Food Allergy] policy (Nurse, prior to the start of school)
b. Provide classroom teachers, duty staff, bus drivers and teaching specialists with additional training in the use of the Epipen and recognizing the signs of anaphylaxis, with IHP (Nurse, prior to Sept. 3rd) and a refresher as/if needed during school year.
c. Maintain copies of IHP in the Nurse’s Office and in Students’s medical pack (Nurse)
d. Communicate regularly with home through notes, e-mails, phone calls (classroom teacher, nursing staff, parents)
e. Remind all parents and staff of [school district] Food Allergy policy through staff meetings and written notices home (Administration, prior to the start of school).
f. Send home information about the presence of a student with life threatening allergies and ask that the offending allergens not be brought to school. Send home a list of “safe foods” to all families in Student’s classroom. (classroom teacher, first newsletter home prior to start of school)
g. Ensure medical pack (with Student’s picture on it) is with him/her at all times throughout the school day. (teaching and duty staff)
h. Educate classmates re: food allergies at the start of the school year (Nurse)
i. Offer the opportunity for classroom parents to meet to learn more about food allergies if requested (Nurse)
j. Not include offending allergens in lesson plans. The school will make sure all teachers/specialists are aware of certain materials which could pose risk. These include any shared items such as musical instruments with mouth pieces, sharing the water fountain (Student will use his/her own water bottle), computer and ipads (children should wash hands with soap and water before use), the use of food containers (i.e. milk cartons, egg crates) for crafts or activities.
k. Have students wash hands prior to using any shared items such as computers, ipads; clean shared items with Clorox wipes, or equivalent safe procedure.
l. Recess monitor will carry Emergency Medicine Pack when Student is outside, and have means to contact nurse/office via walkie-talkie/cellphone/ etc. in case of emergency.
m. Be aware of any food “bullying” incidents, and notify guidance and parents (classroom teacher, guidance counselor, parent) as soon as occurs, or is reported.
n. Student will not participate in fundraising, bake sales, or other projects involving food, and those items will not be present in classroom for storage or distribution. (Classroom teacher)
o. Within in classroom, a folder with Student’s picture on it will be visible and readily available. This folder will include: medical information, 504 plan, and interventions for any substitute or adult volunteers in the classroom. (Classroom teacher)
p. Substitute teachers will check folder and if unfamiliar with the plan, or if they need further instruction/training, will go to health professional to learn prior to start of school day. ( classroom teacher, nurse)
q. Notify parents immediately in event of a reaction at school.
r. The Emergency Medical Pack will be kept between 59 and 86 degrees at all times [to prevent epipen failure]. (all staff)
a. Ensure that Student only consumes food considered safe for him/her including snacks and lunches.
b. Students will share a safe, community snack in the classroom. Teacher will double-check packaging as companies sometimes change processing, to ensure safety of snack. (classroom teacher)
c. Place individually packaged safety snacks in the teacher’s closet to avoid cross-contamination (classroom teacher)
d. Have students clean their desks after handling food using appropriate cleansers and gloves (classroom teacher).
e. Encourage birthdays, holidays, and celebrations to be non-food events (classroom teacher).
f. Notify parents at least 24 hours in advance of any upcoming birthdays, celebrations, other events when other parents might bring food/treats to school (classroom teacher)
LESSON PLANS/ ACTIVITIES/ CLASSROOM GUESTS/ FIELD TRIPS:
a. Inform all visitors, volunteers and presenters of [school district]’s policy addressing [school district ] policy and include a statement about the presence of students in our school with life threatening food allergies (Nurse, 504 Coordinator, Office Staff, Administrator)
b. Ensure that student and nursing staff will bring medical packs on fire drills and field trips.
c. Review the IHP with all teachers and adults on the field trip prior to leaving. Identify the nearest hospital prior to departure and the quickest route to it (nurse, teacher, bus driver, Director of Transportation)
d. Perform an “allergen risk assessment”[see appendix] with parent well in advance of the field trip (teacher and parent).
e. Offer parent the opportunity to be part of the field trip, and be responsible for only Student.
f. An Epipen will be available by the classroom phone, with instructions.
g. Any after school activities (i.e. scouts, clubs, etc) will be scheduled to meet in rooms OTHER than Student’s classroom to prevent any allergens being introduced into the classroom. (Administrator)
h. During assemblies in the cafeteria/gym, Student will not sit next to any trash barrels, staff will watch for crumbs on floor, and Student will be within sight of teacher. (teacher)
i. Teacher/adult/chaperon will have cell phone for use in case of emergency [to call 911].
j. On field trips, a designated person will be responsible for carrying and administering medications in an emergency situation.
a. Maintain a peanut-free table that will be washed only by an adult.
b. Sit Student in well-ventilated area, at the end of the table.
c. Allow student to purchase food or drinks from the cafeteria only with parental permission.
d. Designate “go to” adults in both the lunchroom and recess area.
e. Student will either put his/her trash back in his/her lunch box, or have a “trash buddy” than can empty his/her trash in the cafeteria.
f. Student will not put his/her lunch box in the “bin” with all the other lunch boxes, but will have a special spot to leave the his/her lunch box after lunch. (duty and lunch staff)
g. Allergen safe table or where Student is to eat, will be cleaned prior to sitting with spray bottle of soapy water, then disinfectant cleaner, and paper towels; [as wash cloth in a bucket can just re-contaminate surface].
h. All cafeteria monitors will be informed of Student’s allergies.
a. Medical pack will be handed to the bus driver, and the bus driver will hold it in a safe
and secure space, and hand it to parent/adult/student as he/she leaves the bus.
b. Student will sit in an assigned seat at front of bus, in view of bus driver.
c. In an emergency, bus driver will pull over, have the bus driver assess the medical situation, administer the medication, call 911, radio transportation, then contact the school who will contact parents.
d. Enforce the no food policy on the bus.
e. Have the school nursing staff explain the IHP to any substitute drivers.
f. The seats on the bus will be wiped down prior to Student riding the bus. (bus driver, Nurse,
transportation staff, school office staff)
a. Emergency action plan will be followed in event of emergency. A copy will be stored with Benadryl and Epi-pen in emergency medical pack kept with Student throughout the day, secondary medications kept in nurses office.
b. Student will not be expected to self administer medication in event of emergency.
c. A trained adult staff member will remain with student until the emergency is resolved, including hospital transport if needed.
d. Student will not report to office or nurse without a chaperon during a reaction.
e. School will provide support to student as needed in the event of a serious reaction, upon reentry into school.
The parent(s) will:
a. Provide a medical bag with Student’s picture, if they choose
b. Help create a “safe snack” list for the classroom teacher to send home to families of children in Student’s classroom.
c. Communicate frequently with school.
d. Provide school with current and updated medical information.
e. Check with the allergist regarding Student’s readiness for self-care.
f. Provide a water bottle.
g. Provide safe snacks and lunches contained in a secure lunch bag to avoid cross-contamination.
h. Attend field trips, if available, and be only responsible for Student.
i. Inform the school of any after school activity changes, in case a different bus driver needs to be informed of Student’s medical plan.
j. Provide written notice to the school regarding any changes in bus seating, purchasing of food, etc.
k. Provide current medication, and replace them in the event of them being used, or expiring.
l. Provide non-perishable food in case of an emergency [forgotten lunch/spilled contents/etc]
The student will:
a. Use his/her own water bottle.
b. Know to only eat food brought from home.
c. Know not to trade food with classmates or adults.
d. Understand how a safe food may become cross contaminated.
e. Increase his/her self-awareness and recognition of symptoms of a reaction.
f. Self-advocate: understand there are specific adults and friends (playground, lunch, bus, etc) that he/she can go to when he/she has symptoms or concerns.
g. Wash his/her hands well with approved soap and water prior to eating.
h. Wear a Medic Alert bracelet at all times.
i. Promptly inform adult as soon as accidental exposure or symptoms appear.
Allergen Risk Assessment: an allergen risk assessment is one part of preparing for field trips, which means asking some questions in order for teachers, student and the locale to think about the risk of exposure to allergens and preparedness for potential emergencies.
The assessment questions are:
1. Are allergens displayed on the site? i.e. the eight most common allergens in the US are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. Students may be allergic to one or more allergens on this list, or to any other foods not listed here as well.
2. Are allergens used in any demonstrations or as feed for any animals?
3. Are there any hands-on activity areas that allergens have been used? [i.e. places where birdseed or peanut butter was used, milking a cow, bubble creation/water play areas, or where “slime” was used] Make sure to consider whether there could be contaminated equipment or exposure to an area where food was previously prepared.
4. Are the ingredients and substances that students touch free from allergens? [i.e. paints, glue, animal eggs, animal feed, animals]
5. Will the staff or guests at the field trip be handing anything out to the students? [food, animal eggs, animal feed, animals, etc.]
6. Will the class eat at the facility? If so, will the teacher be able to clean and designate an area for an allergic child to eat? Will there be hand washing facilities available?
7. How quickly can an ambulance reach the location, and then reach a student with in the facility?
PS~ A friend commented to me that you may want to ask about spring picnics, “field day” and other warm weather events~ I am hearing a lot of schools- yes, even “Peanut-Free” ones, plan these events and all the sudden it’s PB&Js, ice creams, pizza~ etc. Make sure they are protecting Food Allergy kids! You may ask “How are the food allergic kids handled in this case? Are they eating in the lunchroom, or are they outside as well? If outside, are the allergic kids sitting together and being closely monitored? ” Are they having all kids wash their hands after? ~J