What if my child has a nut allergy?
To make the transition into school easier for families of students with nut allergies, we’ve pulled together a collection of tips other families have found helpful.
Inform the teacher
As a parent, it is your responsibility to inform the teacher. Other parents have found Meet The Teacher and/or Back to School night a good time to introduce allergen concerns. Parents can come to this meeting with the AISD Nut Aware Flyer and ask to hang it in the classroom, in addition to a leave-behind letter addressed to the teacher (an example letter is included at the end of this packet). Ask the teacher about classroom processes for snack time, parties, and ‘lunch bunch,’ as well as how substitutes are notified about children with allergies. You may want to encourage the teacher to talk to the other students about being allergen aware. If applicable, tell the teacher to what extent (or not) products made in a facility that may have contact with the allergen can be consumed. If you or your child wish to keep the allergy private, you may request that the teacher notify other students and families in the class that there is a student with an allergy, without specifically identifying the student.
The classroom share portal (Shutterfly, Bloomz, Remind etc.) is a great place for the teacher and/or parents to let the other families know about a child with a food allergy. Here you may kindly ask other families to try to avoid allergen foods. Additionally, parents may ask other families to remind their children to 1) not share food and 2) wash hands and mouth if the child happens to have a snack or lunch item with the allergen.
Every year Brentwood Principal Amber Laroche invites parents to write a brief statement about their child’s optimal learning style and desired type of teacher. This could be another opportunity to mention allergens.
Work with the nurse and health team
The Health Room has many of the health forms to complete. Please note the student’s doctor/allergist will need to sign some of these prior to any medications being stored on campus. These forms can also be found on the Health Services site under Campus Health Forms.
Annual health history form
Student Allergy Letter (A1)
Allergy and Anaphylaxis Parent Information Form (A2)
Parent Authorization for Administration of Epinephrine Auto-Injector (A3)
Parent Authorization for Antihistamine Administration, grade-level specific (A4/A5) (if needed)
Physician Orders for Allergy and Anaphylaxis (A6) – requires Dr signature
Physician Statement of Food Accommodation Form (A7) (if needed) – requires Dr signature
Labeled medications – parent is responsible for replacing expired medicines
These forms may change – refer to the school nurse and AISD for the most up-to-date requirements and forms. Read them carefully and fill out completely. Expect the nurse’s assistant to call for clarification and/or to complete any additional forms. Patience and understanding is appreciated – this is for the safety of your child.
Health Room Info
512-414-4335 Brentwood Health Assistant or
512-324-0195 AISD Student Health Svcs
Communicate with the cafeteria
If a student has a documented food allergy, request the cafe put that information into the computer system. It will then pop up on screen when the student goes through the cafeteria line. The cashier will check the child’s tray to make sure that none of the items on their tray contains those allergens. If a student does take an item that contains one of the identified allergens, the cashier will privately and politely ask them to choose a different item from the line. Lunch monitors have limited training. Parents might want to ask administration yearly to train/remind the lunch monitors how to recognize signs of an allergic reaction as this position can have turn over.
Allergens are also listed on the ‘SchoolCafé’ app; parents can plan meals in advance and let students know what they can and cannot have. Note that meals may change, so your student is always the best advocate for their own allergens. The app has a drop down menu, upper right hand side. Page down to Menus and Nutrition and Contact Information (very bottom) if a family needs to communicate directly with support. In the app the contact may be different than the contact listed below, but requests and queries will be forwarded to the appropriate personnel.
District Dietician Contact
Ryan Cengel MS MA RD LDN CPT
Nutrition and Food Services, Austin Independent School District
Baker Center Building
3908 Avenue B #212, Austin, TX 78751
Office: 512-414-0219 | Cell: 773-733-6975
Consider a 504 PLAN
This is optional, and up to each family to determine appropriateness. Parents have the right to request a special accommodation for their child for severe allergies. To do so, they will work in conjunction the counselor and administration. Contact the counselor or administration for additional information on this option.
Send an allergen awareness letter
Please edit as applicable to each individual student, family, and class setting. Please note the letter itself will not prevent exposure to food allergens; It remains the responsibility of the parent in conjunction with their student to educate themselves about their own allergies and acceptable foods.
Dear xxxxx ,
My child has a severe food allergy to xxxxx. I would greatly appreciate it if you could please instruct other children to not share food with classmates unless a teacher or other person with knowledge of the allergy gives approval to do so.
Food allergies can be very serious and potentially fatal. The only way to avoid a reaction is to avoid the offending food. As you know, in order to provide a safe environment for all children, this campus is designated as NUT AWARE. In NUT AWARE classrooms, we request that other parents voluntarily consider finding alternatives when providing lunches and snacks for children, or snacks for the class as a whole. In years past it has been heartwarming to see so many parents and families willing to readjust and explore other food options for the safety and well-being of other children.
For additional information, please call the school nurse at 512-414-4335. To learn more about food allergies, you may visit the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network’s website.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation. We look forward to a great school year!
Keeping your student safe is important, so communication with the school will not be a once-and-done affair. Expect to repeat yourself. Be sure to include any allergies on your initial registration forms, reach out to the contacts, and send reminders and updates when anything changes.
This is a living document, meant to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis with input from parents and staff. Refer to Austin ISD student health documents or the Health Room for additional information.