Mike Bitz: Minimizing the risk of severe allergies
The Mandan Public Schools serves several children with medically documented life-threatening allergies. These students are covered by the American with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Allergic reactions can result from a variety of causes and span a wide range of severity of reactions from mild to life-threatening. The most severe and potentially life-threatening reaction is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a sudden, sever, and potentially fatal, systemic allergic reaction that can invoice various areas of the body.
Because of the ever increasing number of students that are susceptible to severe allergic reactions, the Mandan School Board adopted a policy on Severe Allergens that is meant to minimize the risk of exposure to allergens that pose a threat to students with serve allergies. This policy required that a group of stakeholders develop a Severe Allergens Handbook. The Mandan Public School Severe Allergen Handbook is available online at mandan.k12.nd.us.
If you are a parent or guardian of a child with medically documented allergies, please contact the school your child attends so a health care meeting can be scheduled and a plan can be put in place so that precautions can be taken to minimize the risks to your child.
Even if your child does not suffer from allergies, you may notice some changes in school lunch and snack time procedures. Some of these changes include:
• Teachers will be asked to no longer allow the sharing or trading of personal snacks between children in the classroom.
• Any foods brought for sharing for celebrations must be preapproved by the classroom teacher and cannot be homemade or bakery fresh.
• Food service personnel will use safe food handling procedures to avoid cross-contamination
• Allergen safe areas and tables will be available in the cafeteria if they are needed
• Changes to an individual student’s diet will be made with a physician signed medical statement in accordance with the USDA’s Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs in the School Nutrition Program.
Although it is impossible for the school district to guarantee that no child will experience an allergic reaction at school, we believe these changes will minimize the risk of an allergic reaction occurring in school.
Hopefully this article has been informative to you. If you have any topics or items that you would like me to discuss in future columns, or you would like to comment on this article, please feel free to call me at the school at 751-6500 or email me at Mike.Bitz@msd1.org with your thoughts and ideas.