New CDC Allergy Guidelines for Schools across the United States
In late October, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the first national, comprehensive guidelines to help schools develop polices for the care of students with food allergies. Printable allergy guidelines can be found here. Now food-allergic students in the United States can look forward to greater protection and inclusion both in and out of the classroom.
The “Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs” spells out in detail steps that should be taken in schools and early care and education programs across the nation to protect food-allergic students. It addresses everything and everyone, from the school board level down to materials used in class projects. Detailed instructions, almost like manuals, are provided for many roles within the school community, such as superintendents, school administrators, school nurses and doctors, teachers, food service staff and bus drivers.
Specific recommendations include:
- Designating allergy-friendly seating for eating times.
- Avoiding using foods students are allergic to in class projects, parties, experiments, or as rewards.
- Having epinephrine auto-injectors accessible and staff trained to use them.
- Not excluding kids from field trips, physical education, or recess because of food allergies.
- Ensuring field trips are safe for students with allergies.
- Providing food service menus in advance to families of students with allergies.
- Encouraging children to wash hands before and after eating.
- Avoiding the ordering of food from restaurants because allergens may not be easily identified.
- Training school bus employees on how to respond to food allergy emergencies.
Implementation of these guidelines at schools and early care and education programs is voluntary. However, given that the guidelines provide schools with a comprehensive approach for how to implement best practices and policies for keeping students safe and included, it is highly likely schools across the county will embrace the guidelines.
Parents and caregivers of students with allergies should take some to review the guidelines themselves, share the CDC document with their local school administrators, and offer to assist the school and early care and education programs with implementation of those best practices appropriate for their respective programs.