Dear School and Children’s Service Staff,
The following information can be used as a guide to help you communicate with all parents through the school newsletter, a school camp note, school excursion notes or notes on class activities.
The many areas of risk and the strategies one might implement to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction vary greatly according to a number of factors including:
- the age of the child at risk
- the age of their peers
- what the child is allergic to
- the severity of the child’s allergy
- the environment the child is in
- the level of training carers have received
- what is manageable in a school/childcare/excursion/camp environment
Information in this section can be used as a guide or as a tool to help inform the school community on the support/management of those who are at risk of a potentially life threatening allergic reaction. Management of severe allergy is a community issue.
Examples of ideas for letters to parents include:
- Primary School excursion note
- School Camp excursion note
- Insert for use in School Newsletter
Example of insert on food allergy for Primary School Excursion note
XXXX Primary School does a risk assessment prior to each school excursion. The safety of all students whilst at school and on excursions is critical and we do what we can to prevent any incident that causes harm to any student.
Two of our Yr 2 children have food allergy and the school asks for your support in helping make the XXXX excursion a safe, fun learning experience for everyone. Please consider the children with food allergy when packing special treats/lunch for your child. Remind your child not to share food and to wash their hands after eating. Children with food allergy are learning to care for themselves but we need to assist with management in ways we can. XXXX Primary School asks that foods containing nuts are not sent on the excursion. However foods with the labelling statement which says ‘May contain nuts’ can be eaten in the vicinity of children with food allergy as long as the food is not shared.
If you have any queries or concerns on management of those at risk of anaphylaxis in the school setting, including on excursions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Thankyou for assisting us in caring for students at risk of anaphylaxis.
If egg allergic student your note might include:
XXXX Primary School asks that particular foods containing predominantly egg are not sent on the excursion. These include egg sandwiches, meringue or pavlova. The non-allergic students can eat baked goods that contain egg with care not to share and a hand wash after eating.
If milk allergic student your note might include:
XXXX Primary School asks that care is taken whilst eating on the excursion. As we have a child with a severe milk allergy and most students have at least one dairy food as part of their lunch/snack we ask you to reinforce the no food sharing policy and encourage hand washing after eating. Consider sending in fruit juice or water as a drink and leave milk drinks and yogurt snacks, which can be messy, for home (i.e. for breakfast and afternoon tea).
Example of insert for School Camp Excursion Notification
ALL parents are required to fill out the medical information form which includes questions about medical needs and allergies. If your child is at risk of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) please make an appointment to see the principal/camp coordinator/class teacher at your earliest convenience to discuss excursion management and safety needs. If you are concerned about your child’s attendance for whatever reason, please contact us.
Consider a clause which says: Parents are reminded that mobile phones, MP3 players and the like are not permitted on camp. As students with *nut allergy are attending this camp, we ask that no snacks/munchies containing *nuts be taken on the camp.
Please note: Whilst the school may ask that no foods containing *nut are brought on a camp/excursion, it must never be presumed that an environment is ‘nut free’. Care needs to be taken and other safety strategies need to be adhered to. Medication, the ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis and someone responsible for the administration of the adrenaline (epinephrine) injector (such as EpiPen®, Anapen®) must always be close by in case of an accidental, unexpected emergency.
Example of insert for Start of Primary School Year newsletter
XXXX Primary School is concerned about the safety and well-being of all our students. Many of you will know someone who is affected by anaphylaxis, a life threatening allergic reaction. Our school does its best to be an allergy aware school. Staff have had training in severe allergy management and we have implemented lots of strategies to help keep students at risk of anaphylaxis as safe as we can. We now have 4 students who live with the risk of anaphylaxis to foods and insect stings. Whilst these children are being taught to care for themselves at an age appropriate level, we ask that you help us educate your child on the importance of not sharing food with others, washing hands after eating and calling out to an adult if they think their friend with allergies is sick. With increased awareness and understanding of anaphylaxis, you will be able to help protect those around you.
A food allergy is an immune system response to a normally harmless food protein that the body believes is harmful. When the individual eats food containing that protein, the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, triggering symptoms that can affect a person’s breathing, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and/or heart. Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction and is potentially life- threatening. It must be treated as a medical emergency, requiring immediate treatment and urgent medical attention.
It is estimated that up to 400,000 (2%) Australians, including 1 in 20 children suffer from food allergies and some of them will experience a life-threatening (anaphylactic) reaction.
Symptoms of food allergy can include:
Mild to moderate allergic reaction
- Tingling of the mouth
- Hives, welts or body redness
- Swelling of the face, lips, eyes
- Vomiting, abdominal pain (note these are signs of a severe allergic reaction if the person has insect allergy)
Severe allergic reaction - ANAPHYLAXIS
- Difficult/noisy breathing
- Swelling of the tongue
- Swelling or tightness in the throat
- Difficulty talking or hoarse voice
- Wheeze or persistent cough
- Persistent dizziness or collapse
- Pale and floppy (young children)
9 foods cause 90% of food allergies. These foods are:
- Tree nuts (cashew, almond, pistachio etc) • Crustacea (prawns, lobster, crabs etc)
Peanuts are the leading cause of severe allergic reactions, followed by tree nuts, shellfish, fish and milk. Adrenaline (epinephrine) is the first line treatment for severe allergic reactions and can be administered via an injector.
To learn more about anaphylaxis and food allergies, go to www.allergyfacts.org.au and www.allergy.org.au
As the only way to manage a food allergy is avoidance, the school has implemented several strategies to help prevent a severe allergic reaction. We can never totally eliminate the risk of an anaphylaxis but we can all do things that will help lessen the risk. Please consider the child with food allergy when packing your child’s lunch or when sending in food for any occasion, including school excursions. The school canteen has removed *peanut butter and *egg sandwiches as a safety measure. Foods that ‘May contain traces of xx or xx’ are fine for the nonallergic students to consume at school as long as they do not share food. Students will be learning about allergies, including severe food and insect sting allergies during their PDHPE classes.
(NOTE: See Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia’s Be a MATE kit for ideas on class lesson plans)
Class groups that have food allergic students such as *peanut or *egg allergy, may/will receive a class note asking parents to not send in *peanut butter sandwiches or *egg sandwiches as young children can be messy eaters and not contain their food. Children will be asked to wash their hands after eating and desk surfaces need to be wiped down if children eat at their desks.
Content created January 2020