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January 6, 2012
Dear Richmond Public Schools Parent/Guardian:
Richmond Public Schools (RPS) is committed to working in cooperation with parents, students and physicians to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our students. Preventing and managing severe allergic reactions is one way we can do so.
Allergic reactions are an immune-system hypersensitivity to a particular substance called an allergen. For many allergic individuals, exposure to an allergen results in mild symptoms. But for some people, allergic reactions can be life threatening. The most dangerous symptoms include difficulty breathing and a drop in blood pressure, which are potentially fatal. This severe and lightning-fast allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, may affect students with known and unknown allergies.
Food allergies are among the most common medical emergencies that occur at school. The most common allergens, accounting for 90 percent of allergic reactions, are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. Allergic reactions to food do not just occur in the cafeteria. Materials used in class projects or snacks in the classroom can trigger a reaction. Contact with other students who have had contact with allergy-causing food(s) can also cause an allergic reaction. Avoidance of the offending food(s) is the only way to prevent a reaction. Other common allergies include stinging insects, drugs, latex, chemical or environmental allergens such as perfumes or scented lotion, which can also cause life-threatening reactions.
In light of a recent regional incident involving a student's fatal allergic reaction to a food, we would like to ensure that we have the most updated information about your child's medical history. Our goal is to minimize the risk of accidental exposure to allergens in the school setting. As a proactive measure, we are asking parents/guardians to complete the enclosed Allergy Medical Statement for each RPS student in your household and return it to your child's school nurse by January 17, 2012. Parents/guardians of students with allergies should promptly return this document so that an additional Allergy Management Form can be provided for completion by you and your child's physician.
In addition, we ask that you have a conversation with your child(ren)-even if he or she does not have an allergy-about the potential consequences of sharing foods with other students and the possibility of food-related allergic reactions. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your school nurse.
Thank you for your cooperation as we work collaboratively to ensure the well-being of your child.
Charlene Rodgers Coordinator, Nursing Services School Health Services