Background

Allergies are common and increasing in Australia, affecting around 1 in 5 people. There are many different causes of allergy and symptoms vary from mild to potentially life threatening.

Anaphylaxis is a severe, rapidly progressive allergic reaction that is potentially life threatening.

The key to prevention of anaphylaxis in schools is having knowledge of the student who is at risk, increasing awareness of confirmed allergens, and preventing exposure to known allergens. Partnerships between schools and parents/guardians are important in helping the student avoid exposure to allergens.

Adrenaline given through an adrenaline autoinjector (such as an EpiPen®) into the muscle of the outer mid- thigh is the most effective first aid treatment for anaphylaxis.

The most common allergens in children are:

  • Foods – peanuts, tree nuts (e.g. cashews), eggs, dairy, fish and shellfish, wheat, soy, sesame Insect bites – particularly bee stings
  • Medications (e.g. antibiotics)
  • Latex (e.g. rubber gloves, balloons swimming caps)

Policy

Presbyterian Ladies’ College is committed to providing a safe learning environment for all our students.

The school recognises that it cannot achieve a completely allergen free environment. It is our policy:

  • To provide, as far as practicable, a safe and supportive environment in which students at risk of anaphylaxis can participate equally in all aspects of the student’s schooling;
  • To raise awareness about allergies and anaphylaxis and the school’s Allergy and Anaphylaxis management policy in the school community;
  • To engage with parents/guardians of each student at risk of anaphylaxis when assessing risks and developing risk minimisation strategies for the student; and
  • To ensure that staff have knowledge about allergies, anaphylaxis and the school’s guidelines and procedures in responding to an anaphylactic reaction.

Presbyterian Ladies’ College is an allergy aware school and will:

  • Identify students at risk of anaphylaxis
  • Raise peer awareness and provide peer education
  • Have zero tolerance of bullying of students with allergies and/or at risk of anaphylaxis
  • Raise general awareness about severe allergy amongst the school community
  • Develop strong communication with Parents/guardians of students at risk of anaphylaxis

Identification of Students at Risk of Anaphylaxis

Prior to commencing at the school, parents/guardians must notify the school of all medical conditions including allergies. Refer to our Medical Records (Student) Policy. An Individual School Management Plan for the student that is completed with the parent/guardian and school nurse.

Students who are identified as at risk of anaphylaxis must have an ASCIA Action Plan completed and signed by the student’s medical practitioner. The ASCIA Action Plan must be reviewed every 12-18 months when the student’s adrenaline autoinjector prescription is renewed.

In addition to providing the above information and ASCIA Action Plan, it is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to:

  • Provide an in-date adrenaline autoinjector for their child’s use at the school;
  • Inform the school if their child’s medical condition changes, and if relevant provide an updated ASCIA Action Plan;
  • Alert staff of additional risks associated with non-routine events and assist in planning and preparation of the student prior to Outdoor Education Programs (OEPs), tours, parties, and special events;
  • Supply alternative food options if needed; and,
  • Educate their child on prevention strategies (e.g: to not share food) and what to do if an exposure occurs.

Examples of ASCIA Action Plans are available from the ASCIA website.

Students are responsible for keeping their adrenaline autoinjector in the agreed location. E.g.: on tours they are expected to carry it on them.

Internal Communications

The Principal will be responsible for providing information to all staff, students and parents/guardians about allergies and anaphylaxis and the development of the school’s management strategies. The Principal will also ensure a training register is kept, to be able to identify staff who have undertaken anaphylaxis management training and the date of completion.

Volunteers and casual relief staff will be informed on arrival at the school if they are caring for a student at risk of anaphylaxis and their role in responding to an anaphylaxis emergency.

Staff Training and Emergency Response

At all times while a student at risk of anaphylaxis is under the care or supervision of Presbyterian Ladies’ College, including excursions, Outdoor Education Programmes, yard duty, tours and special event days, Presbyterian Ladies’ College must ensure that there is a sufficient number of staff present with up to date training and know how to prevent, recognise, and treat anaphylaxis, including administering an adrenaline autoinjector.

It is recommended that all staff, but particularly teachers and other school staff who have regular contact with students at risk of anaphylaxis, should undertake training in anaphylaxis management, including how to respond in an anaphylaxis emergency. Free online training for school staff is available from ASCIA. The WA specific course should be completed: https://etrainingwa.allergy.org.au

Wherever possible, training will take place before a student’s first day at Presbyterian Ladies’ College. Where this is not possible, an interim plan will be developed in consultation with the student’s parents/guardians.

The procedures set out in this policy and a student’s ASCIA Action Plan will be followed when responding to anaphylaxis.

Medication Storage and Location

All adrenaline autoinjectors and medication must be stored with a copy of the student’s ASCIA Action Plan and checked regularly to ensure that it has not expired, become discoloured or sediment is visible.

Adrenaline autoinjectors and other medication must be stored in various locations which are easily accessible to staff but not readily accessible to untrained students. A copy of the student’s ASCIA Action Plan is stored in the Health Centre and is also available on SEQTA for Staff. All staff will be informed about where the students’ adrenaline autoinjectors are stored.

Presbyterian Ladies’ College maintains adrenaline autoinjectors and other relevant medication in the following location/s:

  • Health Centre
  • McNeil St School Reception
  • View St School Reception
  • Junior School Reception and STEM room
  • Boarding House Reception

General use adrenaline autoinjectors are kept in the above locations plus the following locations:

  • PLC Lighthouse Reception
  • Student Food technology areas – Lighthouse and Senior School
  • All First Aid Kits requested and provided by the Health Centre for excursions, tours and sports events
  • Physical Education Department

A general use adrenaline autoinjector can be administered to:

  • A student who has their own adrenaline autoinjector, but it is not easily located/the device was incorrectly administered.
  • A student who has been administered their own adrenaline autoinjector, but needs a second dose.
  • A student who is experiencing anaphylaxis but does not have a prescribed adrenaline autoinjector.

Whenever a student at risk of anaphylaxis participates in off campus activities such as excursions and tours, ASCIA Action Plans and adrenaline autoinjectors must be taken. It is the responsibility of the excursion/tour leader(s) to check the student has an adrenaline autoinjector either from home or from where it is stored on campus. Autoinjectors borrowed from campus must be returned to the storage location upon returning to school.

Risk Minimisation Strategies

Presbyterian Ladies’ College will employ a range of appropriate risk minimisation strategies to manage exposure to known allergens.

Presbyterian Ladies’ College will raise awareness in the school community regarding severe allergies and anaphylaxis. Presbyterian Ladies’ College will implement practical, age appropriate strategies to minimise exposure to known allergens.

Refer to Appendix A for a comprehensive list of risk minimisation strategies.

Food allergy management

Given the number of foods to which a student may be allergic to, it is not possible to remove all food allergens. Therefore, Presbyterian Ladies’ College is not a ‘nut free’ School. ’Nut free’ schools are not recommended by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) for the following reasons:

  • It is impractical to implement and enforce;
  • There is no evidence of effectiveness;
  • It does not encourage the development of strategies for avoidance in the wider school community; and
  • It may encourage complacency about risk minimisation strategies (for teachers, students and parents/guardians) if a food is banned.

We consider that being ‘allergy aware’ is more appropriate and this is supported by the ASCIA guidelines for the prevention of allergies and anaphylaxis in preschools, schools and childcare.

Minimising exposure to high risk foods such as peanuts and tree nuts can reduce the level of risk. This can include removing nut spreads and products containing nuts from the school canteen/cafeteria, but does not include removing products that ‘may contain traces’ of nuts.

We may also choose to request that parents/guardians of classmates in the Junior School, do not include products containing nuts or other specified allergens in their lunch box.

Peer support

Peer support and understanding is important for the student/s with food allergies, particularly those at risk of anaphylaxis.

Students should not be isolated from their friends due to their allergy (e.g. they should not be seated separate from their friends at lunch because they have a food allergy).

Staff can raise awareness through fact sheets or posters displayed in hallways, canteens and classrooms or in class lessons. Free downloadable curriculum resources are available from: https://allergyfacts.org.au/allergy-management/schooling-childcare/school-resources

Class teachers can discuss the topic with students in class, with a few simple key messages:

  • Always take food allergies seriously – severe allergies are no joke;
  • Don’t share your food with friends who have food allergies or pressure them to eat food that they are allergic to;
  • Not everyone has allergies – discuss common symptoms;
  • Wash your hands before and after eating;
  • Know what your friends are allergic to;
  • If another student has any symptoms of an allergic reaction get help immediately; and
  • Be respectful of a schoolmate’s medical kit.

It is recommended that a student’s ASCIA Action Plan with the student’s name, photograph and relevant treatment details is displayed in staff areas (including the canteen/cafeteria) in sight of staff but not students. It is important to be aware that some parents/guardians and students themselves may not wish their identity be disclosed to the wider school community, This can be documented in the Individual School Management Plan in discussion with the school nurse.

Managing bullying of students with allergies and/or at risk of anaphylaxis

A student with allergies and/or at risk of anaphylaxis may be at increased risk of bullying in the form of teasing, tricking a student into eating a particular food or threatening a student with the substance that they are allergic to, such as peanuts.

Presbyterian Ladies’ College seeks to address this issue through raising peer awareness so that the students involved in such behaviour are aware of the seriousness of allergic reactions.

Any attempt to harm a student at risk of anaphylaxis with an allergen is treated as a serious and dangerous incident and treated accordingly under the School’s Anti-Bullying Policy.

Raising general community awareness

Presbyterian Ladies’ College takes active steps to raise awareness about allergies and anaphylaxis in the College community so that parents/guardians of all students have an increased understanding.

These steps include providing information about our allergy awareness strategy to the broader school community through newsletters, posters and other publications.

Developing strong communications with parents/guardians of students at risk of anaphylaxis

Parents/guardians of a student/s with allergies, particularly those at risk of anaphylaxis, may experience high levels of anxiety about sending their child to school. Raising awareness in the school community about allergies and our Allergy and Anaphylaxis management policy may help manage parental and student anxiety.

It is important to encourage an open and cooperative relationship with parents/guardians so that they feel confident that appropriate risk minimisation strategies are in place. Informing parents/guardians well in advance of any high risk activities (e.g. tours, excursions, incursions, cooking days etc) in essential.

Parents/guardians should be involved in the process of determining appropriate risk minimisation strategies for their child.

In addition to implementing risk minimisation strategies, the anxiety that parents/guardians and the student may feel can be considerably reduced by keeping them informed of the education, awareness and support from the school community.

Parents/guardians are also able to contact the Health Centre for more information on allergy awareness and PLC’s Allergy and Anaphylaxis management policy.

Staff Responsibility

All staff must comply with this Allergy and Anaphylaxis management policy. All staff must be allergy aware and actively promote Presbyterian Ladies’ College as an allergy aware school.

All staff must know which students in their care are at risk of anaphylaxis. They must know how to prevent exposure to known allergens, how to recognise an allergic reaction including anaphylaxis and know how to respond to anaphylaxis including administering the adrenaline autoinjector.

Staff must be aware of the school’s Critical Incident (Emergency Response) Policy. Staff must comply with the school’s reporting procedures.

Signage

ASCIA Action Plans are posted in the staffroom with first aid procedures.

With permission from parents/guardians, student’s name, photo and the foods they are allergic to, displayed in other locations around the school in view of staff but not in clear view of students

Implementation

This policy is implemented through a combination of:

  • Presbyterian Ladies’ College premises inspections (to identify wasp and bee hives);
  • Staff training and supervision;
  • Maintenance of medical records;
  • Effective incident notification procedures;
  • Effective communication procedures with the student’s parents/guardians; and
  • Initiation of corrective actions where necessary.
  • Review of the policy and procedures if an anaphylaxis occurs in the school or under school supervision.

Discipline for Breach of Policy

Where a staff member breaches this policy Presbyterian Ladies’ College may take disciplinary action.

Policy review

This policy was last updated on 29 October, 2018 and will next be reviewed by 31 December 2019.