School policies and protocols
Many schools and school boards across Canada have developed or are in the process of developing policies for the management of anaphylaxis at school. In the last issue you read an article about New Brunswick's province-wide policy. PEI also has a province-wide policy. In Ontario Bill 3 has been approved, which requires all schools to have protocols in place by January 2006.
Inherent in these policies is the delineation of roles and responsibilities for parents, students, administrators, teachers, etc. Many policies are based on the “consensus statement” Anaphylaxis in Schools and Other Child Care Settings (currently being updated) that was published by the CSACI, AAIA and other groups in 1995 (currently being updated) and on the Canadian School Board Association Handbook.
It is not easy to reach a consensus on exactly how a school protocol should be formulated. It is a delicate balance of rights, risk management and responsibilities to be borne by various stakeholders, including the allergic student. And at the end of the day it has to work well in practice in the particular school and community.
The AAIA strongly supports the adoption of allergy-management protocols in schools and believe that they should be sufficiently flexible to deal with a wide variety of allergies and allergic conditions. They may vary depending on the eating arrangement in place, e.g. eating in a cafeteria, separate lunch room or classroom setting. They also have to be adaptable to specific schools, various age groups and field trips. Indeed, with so many children enrolled in before and after school programs it is increasingly important to have clear plans for all health conditions or emergencies that may arise and to ensure that all caregivers are trained whether or not they are under the jurisdiction of the school board, e.g. lunch program monitors and bus drivers.
What do you want to see in school protocols for allergy and asthma management?
We would like to hear your views and learn about your experiences at school. Whether protocols are province-wide or apply to a single school, what components are essential? Does your school have policies that can be adapted to children with a variety of different allergies? How much responsibility do you place on your child? How much emphasis is placed on food restrictions, on good hygiene and on education? Are food restrictions in place? Is there any particular element that you consider key? Are bus drivers, lunch room monitors and school volunteers educated? Please tell us, based on your experience, what works well and what areas need improvement. Write to or your Regional AAIA office.
from Allergy & Asthma News, Issue 1 2005