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Remember the "More You Know" commercials when we were kids? They still apply. The State of West Virginia has several guidelines and policies in place to help ensure the safety of students with food related issues and diseases. We encourage you to become familiar with WV state policy 4321.1.
Your child is going to need an IHP (Individualized Health Plan, this plan will outline your child's allergies, what to avoid, how to handle various types of reactions and so forth) and may also be eligible for a 504 plan or an IEP. It is a good idea to know what these plans are and the differences in them before you head in to speak with administrators. Depending on your child's needs and possible other health issues, one may be better than another.
This PDF from the state is quite useful. A couple of quick highlights....
Page 7 - Chart of Comparison between IEPs and 504s
Page 15 - Bottom of page addresses allergies
Don't wait until the first day to walk in and announce you have a child with a food allergy. If you have a child starting school in the fall, spring is the best time to start making plans. If you are going to be moving, let your new school know as early as possible as well. DO NOT assume information will go ahead of time in files, or that all that paperwork from a Kindergarten round-up got into the right hands. There are a lot of students out there and sometimes, things just get lost, or missed. It is up to you to make sure the right people are aware your child is headed their way.
Call and talk to your new school's nurse and administration. Ask what forms you are going to need (trust us, there are going to be forms). Each county in WV has their own way of dealing with allergies, so you need to know what your county requires.
Nothing can instill fear in the heart of an allergy parent quite like the idea of sending your child into a school. There are 1,001 "what if's?" that play through your mind. Fortunately, we have found it is possible to create safe environments for allergy kids in school. The following are some guidelines to help you get prepared for sending your child to school, or making the transition from one school to another, such as heading to middle school.
Many doctors' offices keep forms for school's on hand, so you might be able to get a step ahead through their office. If they don't have them, you can get them from your soon-to-be school nurse as we mentioned before, just ask.
Along with the required forms, you are going to want a letter from your doctor stating your child is to self-carry their epinephrine auto-injector or rescue inhaler, or at the very least, that the injector/inhaler is to go room-to-room with the child, carried by a staff member. West Virginia is a RIGHT TO CARRY state, meaning if it is deemed necessary by your physician, that medication can NOT be locked away. It must go with your child.
We are going to be the first to tell you your child has certain rights in school. But that doesn't mean we don't have responsibilities as well. Make sure your child's medical supplies (epinephrine auto-injectors, rescue inhalers) are up to date and packed every day. Look into the various medical ID bracelets to help give information to paramedics in the event of emergency.
Keep up with what's going on at school. Ask to be informed of any events and to participate in planning them. It's better to help organize a safe event than to have to react to an unsafe one.