THE principal of Holy Family Primary School in Omagh says a decision to ban chestnuts in the school was taken as a direct result of medical advice.
Maura Dolan, the head of the Omagh school, explained a number of pupils have severe nut allergies and their health and well-being is paramount .
Mrs Dolan said, “The decision to ask parents and pupils not to bring horse chestnuts into school was made following direct medical advice in relation to a very young child with a serious and diverse nut allergy. The decision was not made lightly, but was necessary to ensure the safety, care and well-being of this child while in school.
“The staff, parents and pupils of Holy Family are fully aware of the potentially life-threatening nature of anaphylaxis and have been very supportive and co-operative with changes and adaptations to school policy in order to minimise risk and ultimately provide the best possible care for all our pupils.
“The management and staff of Holy Family Primary have a duty of care to every child in our school. We welcome the publicity surrounding this issue if it ultimately raises awareness and prevents even one child from a having a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction.”
Mrs Dolan also revealed staff are trained to deal with such a situation and carry epipens as a precaution.
She continued, “The serious issue of food allergies and anaphylaxis is not exclusive to the pupils of Holy Family Primary School.
“The first child to come to our school with a potentially life threatening nut allergy was over 20 years ago and in the intervening years we have seen, not only an increase in the numbers of children with food allergies, but a wide diversity in the nature and type of allergy.
“Diagnosis of a food allergy/anaphylaxis is a very serious matter and decisions made about the care of a child with this condition are made in collaboration with a wide range of medical agencies.
Endorses the action
“In school this results in annual staff training, the drawing up of an ‘Individual Care Plan’ for the child concerned and ensuring that the child has access to emergency medication such as epipens, throughout the school day.”
Dr John Maginness, chair of Board of Governors explained he wholly endorses the action taken to ensure the health and well-being of each child at Holy Family PS.
He said, “The possibility of a child developing a severe allergic reaction caused by foods such as nuts, is taken extremely seriously by the Board of Governors and school management. Policy and Practice are updated accordingly to meet the needs of the individual pupils as far as possible.”