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Food Allergy Policy

CONTEXT

Thornlie Christian College is an interdenominational Christian College that provides complete education from Kindergarten to Year 12. The goal of the College is to offer a quality education where students learn the importance of academic performance, a balanced spiritual life and self-discipline. It is from this that we derive our motto, “Learning for Life”. It is our belief that educational goals are best achieved by providing continuity for students and their families in an atmosphere where relationship and community are fostered and encouraged.

VALUES

We seek to develop in each student the capacity to do the best that they can by using the talents with which they have been blessed. We cultivate an environment in which respect, courtesy, consideration and empathy are the norm rather than the exception. We acknowledge the right of every student to learn in a positive, nurturing and encouraging environment as well as the right of every teacher to be able to teach in a positive, supportive and focussed teaching environment. We enjoy celebrating the successes, achievements and personal victories that mark the life journeys of each of our students.

STATEMENT OF POLICY

Thornlie Christian College is an Allergy Aware School where the health and safety of our Students is of vital importance to us. Enrolled within our school are a number of students with life threatening food allergies and therefore the basis of our approach is risk minimisation and education to ensure a safe learning environment for all.

Aims:

The Thornlie Christian College Food Allergy Policy aims to:
  • Safely support, within the school environment, students with severe allergies and anaphylaxis risks. 
  • Develop and maintain an Action and Implementation Plan for dealing with students who have critical, life-threatening allergies. 
  • Provide a position for the community on food management, hygiene, safe food handling, parent education, student education and canteen and classroom protocols to proactively and reactively support these students. 

Prevalence of food allergies

Food allergies affect approximately 1 in 20 Australians and it is likely that at school children will encounter and may accidentally ingest the one of the many products which causes an allergic reaction.

Students with a food allergy may react to tactile (touch) exposure or inhalation exposure. Not every ingestion exposure will result in anaphylaxis but the potential always exists. Whilst peanut allergy is the most likely to cause anaphylaxis and death, eight foods (peanut, tree nut, milk, egg, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish) account for the vast majority of total food allergies.

When the symptoms to the allergic reaction are widespread and systemic, the reaction is termed “Anaphylaxis”. Anaphylaxis is the most severe and sudden form of allergic reaction and should be treated as a medical emergency.

Mild food allergies can also occur and can usually be treated by non-prescription antihistamine medication.

Prevalence of other allergies

Students can also be susceptible to other allergies. These can be varied but allergic reactions can be brought on commonly by pollens/grasses, colds/viruses, strong chemical smells or contact with glues or other toxins and animal bites and stings.

Both mild and/or anaphylactic responses can occur from these types of allergies and while there is little that can be done to prevent such allergies occurring, it is important to have awareness of them so as to assess any manageable risks and make any necessary changes.

Symptoms of food allergies

Symptoms and signs of anaphylaxis, usually but not always, occur within the first 20 minutes after exposure but can in some cases be delayed for two hours or more. Symptoms and signs may include one or more of the following:
  • Difficulty and/or noisy breathing. 
  • Swelling of the tongue. 
  • Swelling or tightness in the throat. 
  • Difficulty talking or a hoarse voice. 
  • Wheeze or persistent cough. 
  • Dizzy/light headed. 
  • Loss of consciousness and/or collapse. 
  • Pale and floppy (young child). 

PREVENTION STRATEGIES

School Community

  1. As an “Allergy Aware School” no peanuts, peanut paste/butter, nuts, “Nutella” spread or nutty muesli bars are permitted within the school.
  2. The school canteen will not sell nut products. Any products that may contain nut traces will be clearly identified as such. 
  3. New families are informed of this policy when starting at the school, with reminders published in the newsletter, at our Orientation Day and on our Parent Information nights. 

Students

  1. Education about food safety and the seriousness and potential life-threatening nature of allergies takes place within the classroom environment. Staff training will take place at General Staff Meetings and relief teachers will be briefed on the medical book and any risks within their classes. 
  2. Students are encouraged to wash hands after eating and soap dispensers are provided. 
  3. If any potentially harmful food is brought to school by mistake children are encouraged to inform the classroom or duty teacher so that risks may be minimised. 
  4. All students are reminded that it is best not to share or swap food. 
  5. Any inappropriate behaviour relating to an “at risk” student’s food allergy will be taken seriously and dealt with immediately by the teacher on duty and reported to a member of the Administration. 

Staff

  1. College staff will undergo regular anaphylaxis first aid training including the identification of signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction and use of appropriate medication to cater for these situations. eg. EpiPen. 
  2. Individual anaphylaxis response plans for children with a food allergy are on display in the staff room, in Student Services and various medical books located throughout the College, in particular in the class rooms of ‘at risk’ students. Regular and relief staff are expected to familiarise themselves with these. 
  3. EpiPen and anaphylaxis plan kits are required to be taken to school excursions and sporting events. 
  4. A mobile or other communication device must be available on every trip for emergency calls. 
  5. School staff are requested to avoid bringing peanuts or nut products to school in keeping with the whole school policy. Should they have nut products it is important they wash their hands thoroughly afterwards and make sure they do not have allergy foods on their breath. 
  6. The school staff must make parents aware of atypical school occasions (as children get older there are more occasions when food will just arrive without notice) and events where changes to exposure to allergy foods are increased. These include, but are not limited to: student birthdays/farewells when parents might bring in cakes for the class; sport or swimming carnivals, school dances and other events not held at the school premises where food supervision is more difficult and students use outside canteens; craft days; class market stalls; class celebrations; sausage sizzles; fundraisers; Christmas and Easter where students and staff may swap chocolates, lollies or presents. 

Families of at risk students

In terms of the child with the allergy, while it is a matter for the parents as to whether the identity of the child with the allergy is revealed to the other students and the parents, it is in the best interests of the child thatthis occurs. The information about the child's allergies MUST be communicated to all school staff as they would have a responsibility to act if they saw the child exhibiting any of the symptoms described.

Parents should supply:

  • 1 medical kit containing: an EpiPen; a copy of the child’s anaphylaxis plan; any other prescribed medications such as anti-histamine or Ventolin. These will be kept in Student Services 
  • Identification bracelet, wrist band or similar. (i.e. Medicalert bracelet). (www.medicalert.com.au) 
Replacing the EpiPens and other medication required for the treatment of such allergies will be the responsibility of the child’s family. It is also advisable to replace photos/anaphylaxis plans every year as the student grows or as situations change.

Parent/caregivers should:

  • Inform the school in writing that their child is at risk of anaphylactic reaction. 
  • Notify the school via an “Action Plan for Anaphylaxis” of any advice from a treating medical practitioner. The action plan must contain a photo of the student, a list of known allergies, parent contact information, symptoms and signs of mild and severe allergic reactions, and actions to undertake in the event of an emergency. This plan must be signed by a treating medical practitioner. 
  • Provide written authorisation for the school to administer the EpiPen or other medication or to assist a child to administer the medication. 
  • Provide an EpiPen to the school for use with their child. They will need to ensure that the EpiPen is clearly labelled and not out of date, and replace it when it expires or after it has been used. 
  • Teach and encourage children to self-manage. 

Planning for the Individual Student: Entry into School

Prior to entry into school (or, for a student who is already in school, immediately after the diagnosis of a life-threatening allergic condition), the parent/guardian should meet with the school to develop an individualised anaphylaxis plan.

Classroom Protocols/Guidelines

All teachers, aides, volunteers, students will be educated about food allergies. All parents/guardians of students in the effected class are to be notified that there is a student/s with a life-threatening food allergy and the foods which cause this allergy. Requests will be sent home with a list of foods that must not be brought to school.

IN CONCLUSION

At Thornlie Christian College we seek to ensure the safety and well-being of all members of our school community. We believe an effective partnership between the family and school will ensure the successful inclusion of students with life-threatening allergies. We are committed to responsible and achievable management practices in reducing foreseeable risks associated with the support of students with anaphylaxis within the school environment.