Avoiding Spilled Milk
Keeping the Child Safe
1. First, meet the principal. It’s best to do this before school starts, and this step is essential for a first year at a school. You need to make sure that the principal understands the issues involved with dairy allergy. Make a good first impression; be reasonable, clear and encourage mutual respect. Know what you want to achieve. But, let the principal and/or vice principal speak first and explain the allergy procedures the school has developed. This fosters a positive atmosphere, and then you’ll only have to make the case for a few important items.
2. Be aware of the minefields. Direct dairy sources at school include: milk programs, pizza parties, chocolate, goldfish crackers, cheese strings, yogurt and bread. Cross-contamination or contact reactions can result from old Playdough, toys, faucets and door knobs. In the younger grades, children still place fingers in their mouths or noses and accidental ingestion this way can cause reactions.
3. Focus on reducing the risk. Some schools will make a specific classroom “allergy-friendly” and restrict dairy products to protect an allergic child. But milk in the form of whey, casein or modified milk ingredients is in so many foods that completely restricting it in a school would: not be practical, cause an uproar, and be impossible to police.
Still, according to several anaphylaxis laws and policies in the United States and Canada, a principal is required to devise and communicate the plan to minimize a food-allergic child’s exposures. If there is a milk program, discuss how your child will be accommodated (e.g. special table, no straws).
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