Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Don't forget the substitutes.....

We just learned a valuable lesson about what to do when a substitute takes over unexpectedly.  Fortunately, nothing happened but here's our story.  Last week Alexa had a spring concert at school so I had her stay in extended day until the show.  A friend dropped her at school that morning.  Before the show, we are supposed to drop the children off to the teacher who brings them down for their performance.  Alexa casually mentioned that she had a new teacher that day but I didn't think much of it.  I dropped her in her classroom and introduced myself to the substitute.  "Hi, I'm Alexa's Mom, Susan.  She just ate dinner so I want her to have her Epi Pens with her, do you want to carry yours or should she carry them in her bag?" The teacher was stunned.  She looked baffled and said, "um, I didn't even know she was allergic. I don't even know where her Epi Pens are." I was shocked and upset but smiled and said, "um ok, that's not good.  What would you have done if she had a reaction today?" blank stare.  Literally, she had NO reply.  YIKES.  The she proceeded to show me that she couldn't get the cabinet open (you know, the one that most likely held my child's life saving medicine) UGH!!! I was upset but I said "ok, for now, please have her carry her bag and Epi's to the concert and I will get them from you when we pick her up." My husband could see how upset I was but he said "she's ok, it's ok, we'll talk to them tomorrow." I replied, "yes, thank god she's ok but what did they feed her for snack? What if she HAD had a reaction and couldn't tell them her Epi's were in her bag? In the time it would take for the nurse to get upstairs...." not a good feeling.
SO....lesson learned.  I HAD thought about substitutes in the past, but each time I have been the one to drop Alexa at school and I have introduced myself and gone over the plan.  This was the first time I had not been there and it was not a good feeling to know the adult in charge had no clue about my child's allergies.  Today I spoke with her teacher, who told me she HAD left a detailed note for the substitute (as I expected because she's a great teacher) but that she must not have read through it carefully.  I also called the parent coordinator and very nicely explained my concerns.  Fortunately, she agreed that it was a serious issue and said she would address it with the principal.  Lastly, I told Alexa, "Honey, each time you have a new adult supervising you, you need to introduce yourself, tell them you have allergies, and show them where your Epi Pens are." But I don't believe a 6 year old should be the one responsible for this.  The school has got to do a better job of informing caretakers of children's life threatening conditions!! I hope other allergy Mom's learn from this post.  If even one parent learns from our mistakes it makes me feel better!

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