Supporting Students With Food Allergies
Students are often exposed to allergens in the classroom, cafeteria or playground. An allergy is the body’s reaction to a substance like pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, latex, foods and insect stings that the body views as harmful. More than 50 million Americans (1 in 6) experience some form of allergy.1
While exposure to dust mites and pollen are difficult to control in the school environment, schools can implement policies and procedures to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis due to exposure to food allergens. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction which occurs quickly after exposure to an allergic substance. Anaphylaxis symptoms include: skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin; swelling of the tongue and constriction of the airway causing difficulty breathing; nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, dizziness or fainting and a sudden drop in blood pressure.
With a large number of children living with allergies, it is important for schools to be prepared to help manage those allergies while the child is in the school. While not always able to prevent exposures, such as bee stings on the playground or dust mite exposure in the classroom, schools can reduce risk through monitoring the playground and removing beehives and routine cleaning of classrooms. The Allergy & Asthma Network offers guides for both schools and parents on managing allergies in school.
A food allergy is an adverse immune response that occurs after exposure to a specific food. Estimates show that as many as 8% of children may have a food allergy 2, or an average of 2 students in each classroom. 3 Reactions to food allergies can range from mild symptoms to serious anaphylaxis and death. There is no cure for food allergies; strict avoidance of exposure to the allergen is the best way to prevent a reaction. There are eight foods or food groups that are responsible for the majority of serious allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts and tree nuts.3
Policy to Support Students with Food Allergies
In July 2009, Ohio law required the board of education of each city, local, exempted village and joint vocational school district, community school and the governing authority of each chartered nonpublic school to establish a written policy with respect to protecting students with food allergies. The policy must be developed in consultation with parents, school nurses and other school employees, school volunteers, students and community members.
Further information on food allergy policy requirements can be found on the Department’s Food Allergy Policy Requirements and Guidance webpage.
Training to Support Students with Food Allergies
In April 2021, Ohio law was amended to specify that each school district board of education may create training for all staff members and age-appropriate instruction for students in grades kindergarten through 12 on food allergies and ways in which to assist an individual experiencing an allergic reaction. If a district board chooses to provide training to staff and students, the training may include:
- Instruction in food allergies;
- Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis;
- Prevention of allergic reactions;
- Management and administration of epinephrine; and
- Follow-up and reporting procedures.
Completed training qualifies as a professional development activity for the renewal of educator licenses, in addition to activities approved by local professional development committees.
The Ohio Revised Code and Food Allergy and Epinephrine Procurement
|Ohio Revised Codes related to Food Allergy and Epinephrine Procurement
|Chartered or nonchartered nonpublic school
|Food Allergy Protection Policy
Information on food allergy policy requirements and resources to train staff and students can be found on the Department's Food Allergy Policy Requirements and Guidance webpage.
Epinephrine Autoinjector Procurement
To support students with food allergies, guidelines are available on the procurement, distribution and training for the administration of epinephrine to support students with food allergies.
Ohio Law Related to Food Allergy and Epinephrine Procurement
Schools and districts choosing to procure epinephrine autoinjectors must do one of the following:
- Have a licensed health professional authorized to prescribe drugs, personally furnish the epinephrine autoinjectors to the school or school district or issue a prescription for them in the name of the school or district.
- Have the district's superintendent, chartered or non-chartered nonpublic governing authority obtain a prescriber-issued protocol that includes definitive orders for epinephrine autoinjectors and the dosages of epinephrine to be administered through them.
- A district board or school that elects to procure epinephrine autoinjectors is encouraged to maintain, at all times, at least two epinephrine autoinjectors at each school.
A district board or school that elects to procure epinephrine autoinjectors shall require the district's superintendent or governing authority to adopt a policy governing their maintenance and use. Before adopting the policy, the superintendent or governing authority shall consult with a licensed health professional authorized to prescribe drugs and specify that assistance from an emergency medical service provider must be requested immediately after an epinephrine autoinjector is used.
A district board or school that elects to procure epinephrine autoinjectors must:
- Identify the one or more locations in each school operated by the district in which an epinephrine autoinjector must be stored.
- Specify the conditions under which an epinephrine autoinjector must be stored, replaced and disposed.
- Specify the individuals employed by or under contract with the district board, in addition to a school nurse or an athletic trainer, who may access and use an epinephrine autoinjector to provide a dosage of epinephrine to an individual in an emergency situation.
- Specify any training that employees or contractors, other than a school nurse or athletic trainer, must complete before being authorized to access and use an epinephrine autoinjector.
- Identify the emergency situations, including when an individual exhibits signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, in which a school nurse, athletic trainer or other employees or contractors may access and use an epinephrine autoinjector.
- Specify the individuals, in addition to students, school employees or contractors, and school visitors, to whom a dosage of epinephrine may be administered through an epinephrine autoinjector in an emergency situation.
A school district board of education chartered, or non-chartered nonpublic school may accept donations of epinephrine autoinjectors from a wholesale distributor or a manufacturer and may accept donations of money from any person to purchase epinephrine autoinjectors.
Free or Reduced-Cost Epinephrine Autoinjectors:
Ohio law requires the Ohio Department of Education to compile a list of organizations and companies that offer free and reduced-cost epinephrine autoinjectors to qualifying school districts, other public schools and chartered nonpublic schools annually.
Reporting Epinephrine Autoinjector Procurement and Usage
A district board of education or a chartered or non-chartered nonpublic school or community school that elects to procure epinephrine autoinjectors must report to the department of education each procurement and occurrence in which an epinephrine autoinjector is used from a school’s supply of epinephrine autoinjectors.
Allergy Resources for Schools
The following resources can assist school staff with food allergy policy development, implementation and evaluation to support students with food-based allergies.
- Cleveland Clinic. Allergies: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatments (clevelandclinic.org) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8610-allergy-overview
- Gupta RS, Warren CM, Smith BM, Blumenstock JA, Jiang J, Davis MM, Nadeau KC. The public health impact of parent-reported childhood food allergies in the united states. Pediatrics. 2018;142(6):e20181235.
- Boyce JA, Assa’ad A, Burks AW, et al; NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy in the United States: report of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;126(suppl 6):S1–S58.
Last Modified: 10/19/2023 7:59:45 AM