With the increase of allergic conditions in South Africa, it is becoming more common for schools to have children
in their care who suffer from asthma, allergic rhinitis, food allergies, insect allergies, anaphylaxis and atopic
dermatitis. Unfortunately, inadequate guidelines exist for addressing the needs of such children and existing
legislation does not cover many of the issues – being either vague or inadequate.
Since children spend a large proportion of their time at school, it is inevitable that the schools will have to
accommodate children with chronic-care needs and also encounter events where children experience allergy
emergencies. School authorities have a responsibility to ensure that learners are able to achieve their full
potential, despite barriers to learning, and that they are taught and cared for in a safe environment.
This article outlines a practical and implementable policy for use in schools which is aimed at reducing the
impact on learning of children suffering chronic health conditions and ensuring the safety of children with severe
allergies. The fundamental aspects of the policy include:
• establishing an ‘allergy action committee’ (or ‘chronic illness action committee’) at each school;
• ensuring every child with a chronic health condition is identified and has both a chronic and an emergency
treatment plan signed by their doctor and that these include an ID photograph;
• implementing measures to reduce potential exposure to identified allergens for those with severe allergies;
• ensuring that emergency medication is available and accessible at all times;
• training staff online in the identification and treatment of severe allergic reactions.