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April 21, 2006

Safe School Bus Policy?

I read an article last week about a family who was fighting with their school about how to handle the school bus ride for their food allergic child. It brought up some interesting points.

Should there be a written policy for preventing and responding to life-threatening food allergies on the buses? Parents of children with severe food allergies probably have reason to be worried.

Is the solution to have epinephrine on the buses with drivers who are trained to use EpiPens? Or could a bus driver simply carry a cell phone to call 911 if they see something wrong?

If there is an agreed upon allergy response policy in the classroom, what makes the bus any different? Is it that the driver holds in his/her hands the lives of many children during the ride and should not be expected to handle the extra burden of food allergy preparedness?

Remember, life-threatening allergies are a federally defined disability, requiring school departments to make accommodations for those with such allergies under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also remember, going down that path with school adminstrators is a bit of a slippery slope. (You might become one of THOSE parents.)

What role do the parents play in making sure their child is safe on the bus? Gloves? Allergen barrier lotion? Should the child always sit by themselves in the front row? (We wouldn't want them to stand out too much, would we?)

As with most of what we deal with as parents of food allergic children, there are no easy answers. My opinion is that well thought out planning and open discussion will always work better than pointing to legislation and demanding action. Try getting to know the bus driver. Maybe bake them an allergen-free treat once a week and have your child say thanks as he/she hands the driver the treat with a smile. You can always get more done by showing kindness.

Posted by David at April 21, 2006 11:48 AM


I love your blog, I have a son with a peanut/nut allergy. He is permitted to carry his epipen to and from school but has to report it to the nurse and me after the bus ride. He is very good at alerting everyone around him he is allergic to peanuts/nuts.

Posted by: MandyJ at April 27, 2006 5:57 AM

Are you sure about the protection under ADA? In referencing Land v Baptist Medical Center, a peanut allergy was not deemed to trigger protections under ADA.

Posted by: Amy at May 11, 2006 7:00 AM