New Food Allergy Policy Under Review
On June 6, a boilerplate draft policy of public school Food Allergy Management Plan and Guidelines was distributed to members of the Teaching and Learning Committee of the Board of Education (BOS) and shared with several very interested members of Branford-based Food Allergy Education Network (FAEN).
Over the coming weeks, members of FAEN will review the policy and FAEN founder Gina Lee will give their input to Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez. The BOS committee will then discuss revisions to the policy at its August meeting.
The goal is to develop a new policy that best meets the needs, abilities, and priorities of Branford Public Schools (BPS). From that policy, which will need to be approved by the full BOS, regulations will then be developed in written form and put in place, said Hernandez. The hope is to have the policy approved by the full BOS sometime in the early fall of 2012.
Schools are currently operating on a "best practices" level to assist individual students identified as at risk due to food allergies, said Hernandez.
"The best practices are local practices which may not necessarily be written down right now, but the intention of this is to raise awareness and to codify those best practices in the form of regulations. That's the ultimate outcome of this process," said Hernandez.
The policy document distributed on June 6, prepared by Shipman & Goodwin, LLC, recognizes that food allergies may be life threatening and outlines strategies and practices to minimize the risk of accidental exposure to life-threatening food allergens. The policy also calls for ensuring prompt and effective medical response and recognizes the importance of collaborating with parents and appropriate medical staff.
Currently, BPS doesn't have an overarching policy and that's something Lee and her group has been working to change. At the committee meeting, she pressed for specifics on how the policy will be developed and what interaction FAEN and other members of the public will be allowed to have with the BOS.
Committee member and BOE Chairman Frank Carrano said there will be "many opportunities.
"The development of the policy is the first step," Carrano explained to Lee. "Where we can really use your level of expertise is going to be developing the regulations-what are all the specific things we need to be aware of and cognizant of.
"We have these two tasks. The policy is more generalized; it is sort of the road map that we follow with respect to how we are going address the issue to manage food allergies," Carrano said. "But then it's just the day-to-day to management that's actually carried out and that's going to be another discussion, and I think that's where we will be much more engaged with you and others."
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