Allergies in the Classroom
If your child suffers from allergies you’ve probably taken steps to reduce the number of allergens in your home environment. But when it comes to taking your child outside the home, you have much less control. And of course, a large chunk of your child’s time is spent in the school environment. If your child suffers from severe allergies, you may need to speak to your school about a plan to help your child deal with allergic triggers in the classroom.
According to the Journal of Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 50 percent of children in the UK suffer from an allergy. Common childhood allergies include asthma, rhinitis and eczema – all of which can be triggered by allergens found in the classroom such as dust mites and pet hair which can be carried in on the clothing of other children.
Carpets and Clutter
Suffering from allergic reactions whilst at school is not only uncomfortable but can also impact heavily on a child’s ability to concentrate during lessons. If your child’s allergies are triggered in the classroom, the school should be willing to help. One major problem, particularly in primary school, is that children are often asked to sit on the floor where there may be a greater number of dust mites and other indoor allergens. Some schools have taken steps to replace traditional carpets with flooring that is specifically designed to reduce allergens. Other things that the school can do include keeping classrooms well ventilated and ensuring that rooms are kept clear of unnecessary clutter.
If your child has other serious allergies – such as food allergies or an allergy to insect bites or stings, it’s important to make the school aware of the risks they face. Make sure your child understands their allergy, its triggers and how to treat a reaction. You should also arrange a meeting with the school before the start of term to ensure that your child’s teachers know what to do if your child suffers from an allergic reaction whilst at school. It’s a good idea to give teachers written information about the allergy and an allergy management plan for your child – particularly if the allergy is less common.
Staff at the school should feel confident helping your child with medication if necessary and should know what to do in an emergency. If your child has an auto injector pen for use in emergencies, your doctor may be able to provide a training session to show school staff how to use it.
If your child has a serious food allergy, the school may write to other parents asking them not to include a particular ingredient in their own child’s packed lunch.
Planning for the Unexpected
Of course, the school day does not always follow the same pattern and there may be times when children take a lesson outdoors, go on a trip, or have visitors coming into the school. It’s worth discussing with your child’s teachers about any unusual lesson plans that are coming up each term so you can assess any risks and take action. Cookery demonstrations, visits by exotic animals, or craft workshops may all feature allergic triggers that are not normally found in the classroom.
For more information about dealing with allergies at school, visit: www.allergyuk.org
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