Regardless of the level of celiac awareness in your child’s school, you must take the initiative to let the staff know your child cannot have gluten under any circumstances. Making a few phone calls and in-person visits are always wise so that you can develop a relationship with the individuals who work closely with your child, and they will feel comfortable calling you if they have questions. This includes the principal, teachers, nurse, and cafeteria manager. It’s always best to augment verbal communication with written reference lists, tips, and contact information. Craft a letter or email to school personnel who need to know and be sensitive to your child’s needs. Even if your child is not celiac, but gluten intolerant, the same strict measures apply.
A sample letter to use as a guide follows:
My child, (insert name), has celiac disease (or is gluten intolerant). This is a serious digestive disorder where he/she cannot eat foods or come into contact with materials that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Oats must also be avoided. If he/she eats or touches anything with gluten, he/she will get extremely sick. Snacks, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, bread, cereal, and many other foods have gluten in them. Also, classroom materials that must be avoided include playdough because of probable wheat in the dough and possibly paints and crayons that contain gluten.
When there is snack time or special food activities in class, my child can eat fresh fruits and vegetables, plain popcorn, etc. (Fill in accordingly). With advance notice of a classmate’s in-class birthday celebration, I can have my child bring his/her own gluten-free treat to enjoy with the class.
For easy reference, please find attached a list of common foods and materials that my child must avoid, as well as gluten-free snack suggestions the whole class might like.
I understand that you may have some questions and please don’t hesitate to call me to discuss. Thank you very much for your cooperation and monitoring the situation. I look forward to working with you.