I only encountered severe food allergies in the classroom within the past few years. Several members of my family have celiac disease, so I approached my first case with confidence. I quickly learned, however, that the food allergies in my classroom are a completely different animal. Ingestion of a food allergen–even a trace amount—can be life threatening. Some children experience a reaction just by contact alone.
I’m not a food-allergy expert but I play one in my classroom. Like most teachers, I’ve seen an increase in the number of students who have severe food allergies. I don’t know why food-allergy rates are rising, but I do know that it means classrooms and schools are implementing new protocols to ensure the safety of their students. It also means that as an elementary school teacher, I’ve embraced the responsibility of following particular practices to make kids—and their parents—feel safe and ready to learn.