Health Policies and Practices
A number of students in our community have peanut and/or tree nut allergies. These students cannot ingest or touch anything containing tree nuts or peanuts, and are at high risk of having a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction if they are accidentally exposed to these allergens. For their protection, our cafeteria is “Nut Sensitive” and takes a number of steps to keep students safe, including careful allergen labelling, frequent sanitizing of surfaces, and a food services staff who knows our children well.
We also urge parents and community members to review our guidelines below for all food brought into the school for classroom parties, bake sales, and other school social events. Please help us to protect our friends by adhering carefully to the following:
Please DO NOT send to school any fresh nut products, any spread containing nuts (such as peanut butter and Nutella), any granola bar, cookie or other product that lists nuts as an ingredient, packages of mixed fruit (such as trail mix) that contain nuts, recycled containers that may have contained nuts (such as cereal, peanut butter jars, cookies)
- Be aware that foods from store bins are not considered safe. There is a high risk of cross- contamination from bulk-food bins and scoops.
- Do not use nut ingredients if preparing food (such as birthday cake) for special school events.
- Remember that if your child eats a nut product for breakfast (such as peanut butter on toast), washing hands before arriving at school will reduce the chance of exposing an allergic child to a nut allergen (such as on the bathroom taps, computer mouse, climbing equipment, etc.)
- Be aware that at any school event where food is served, children will be prohibited from swapping or sharing food, to further reduce the risk of exposure to allergens.
Brooklyn Friends cannot ensure an environment that is completely free of peanuts and/or tree nuts. But if we heighten our awareness of the problems that such foods, oils, and other items may cause, we can protect those students who are at most serious risk. Thank you for your help in achieving this goal.
Because annual physical exams are such an important safeguard against serious illness, BFS requires every student to present documentation of a physical examination before the beginning of each school year. Without this record, students may not participate in school activities such as field trips and eventually may be restricted from attending school. Please make appointments for physicals in a timely way to avoid such activity restrictions. Other mandatory forms cover emergency contacts, emergency care authorization, and illness action plans. Magnus Health assists Brooklyn Friends with the health form process by annually collecting health documents. Parents upload the required information into a protected system where the school nurses review each form. Some information may roll over from year to year. Other forms must be resubmitted with new data each fall. Magnus will prompt you with the appropriate dates.
Becoming Sick at School
If a student becomes ill while at school, parents will be called and asked to pick up the child. In the event of a serious injury or illness, the school will contact the parents immediately and, when necessary, act in accordance with the Emergency Care Authorization signed by parents, giving the school permission to administer first aid, to contact the child’s physician for medical instructions, and to take the child to the nearest hospital for necessary care. We ask that parents who take their sick or injured child to a physician or hospital will, upon return to school, provide the school nurse with a written note from the physician that documents the care received and any activity restrictions.
When a communicable illness (such as strep throat, flu, or pink-eye) is reported in your child’s grade, we will send out an advisory notifying you of the signs and symptoms to watch for in your child. If your child is diagnosed with a contagious illness, please notify one of the school nurses immediately so that we can minimize the risks to the community. This information will always be kept confidential. Our policy is to disclose only the grade level (instead of the classroom) of an affected student in most health advisories, the rationale being that all students in a grade level mix throughout the week, so that parents of all students in a grade should be equally vigilant when there is a case of illness. In the event of serious outbreaks of contagious illness, advisories will be sent division-wide or school-wide, depending on the recommendations of the NYC Department of health.
Keeping Sick Kids at Home
When a child is ill, parents must make sure that she/he is fully recovered before returning to school. School nurses have discretion in determining if a child is too sick to be at school. If your child has a fever (clinically significant at 100 degrees and above), we ask that you keep him or her home from school. Students must be fever-free (without the benefit of fever-lowering medications) for a full 24 hours before they can return to school. Likewise, children who have been prescribed antibiotics need to remain home for at least 24 hours after the first dose has been administered, or until the child shows signs of recovery. If your child is not feeling well, he/she will not have the energy to participate fully in our program. Keeping a sick child home will help control the spread of illness and speed your child’s recovery. In general, your guiding question should not be “Can my child handle being at school while sick?” but instead ”Is my child likely to sicken others at school?”
All students must be fully immunized according to the New York State Department of Health’s guidelines. BFS is legally obligated to report immunization rates each year to the Department of Health. Selective vaccinations are not permitted. BFS does consider requests for religious exemption from vaccines, in accordance with NY public health law, and a very small percentage of our student body claim such exemptions. We require ample notarized documentation from parents seeking such an exemption. Our policy aims to balance our respect for religious beliefs with the mandate to safeguard the health of our community. In the event of an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable illness, students without documentation of immunity (including those with religious exemption claims) will be excluded from school for the entire duration of the incubation period, a restriction which cannot be overridden by a doctor’s orders. For questions about this, please contact the Director of Health Services.
BFS has a no-head-lice policy. Students found to have live head lice or heavy nits will be sent home from school. We ask that parents confirm treatment of the condition with the school nurse, who will check the student for lice before admitting him or her back to class. Affected students will be re-examined in 10-14 days to confirm that they are lice-free. It is important for parents to realize that lice management is not primarily a school responsibility. As a courtesy, we will assist parents with advice, periodic screenings, and notifications. Lice management is primarily a home responsibility. A prudent home strategy would be to check children’s heads thoroughly and often, and to discuss with them how to avoid contracting lice. As with other health advisories, we will send grade-wide notifications whenever a case of head lice is reported to us.
Students may not carry over-the-counter medications at school. We have common over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl well-stocked in the infirmary. If your child takes a prescribed medication during the school day, we will store it in one of the nurses’ offices and administer it to your child appropriately. Prescription medicine must be submitted in its original packaging with a copy of the prescription. Parents should inform the school nurse when their children are taking prescription medications, even if they are only administered at home. Examples of such medications include antibiotics, psychiatric medications, and stimulants. This notification is important to ensure a child’s safety in the unlikely event of an adverse reaction during school hours. The health staff are sensitive to parental concerns around confidentiality and will share this information only as necessary with other school personnel. If a child requires medication for a chronic health condition, such as asthma or severe allergies, it is essential to leave back-up medication/inhalers/epi-pens with one of the school nurses in case of an emergency. In most cases, we request that two epi-pens be kept at school for anaphylactic students. Please discuss these arrangements on a case-by-case basis with the health staff.
Approval for self-medication:
Some students with chronic health conditions (including asthma, serious allergies, and diabetes) may be approved to carry and self-administer certain non-controlled medications that a healthcare provider has ordered to be taken during the school day or during school-sponsored activities. Most students needing epi-pens and asthma inhalers will qualify for self-medication privileges. For information on self-carry approval, please contact one of the school nurses.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Students may never carry on their person any controlled substances (ADHD medications, psychiatric drugs, pain medications containing narcotics, etc.) during school or school-sponsored activities.
Medication on Field Trips:
Students who are prescribed rescue medications such as inhalers and epi-pens must bring these medications on every school field trip. Depending on the maturity of the child and compliance with our self-carry procedures, the rescue medications will be carried either in the chaperones’ first aid kit or in the child’s backpack. For overnight field trips, chaperones will announce in advance the procedures for turning in any medications to be administered on the trip.
Physical Education at Brooklyn Friends is an essential component of our program. We believe that full participation in PE nurtures not just our students’ bodies, but also their social skills, emotional wellness, and good character. For that reason, we are reluctant to excuse children unnecessarily from gym activities. Our policy is to require a detailed letter from an MD if a student needs to be restricted from physical activity. We will offer parents a one-day grace period to excuse their children, but beyond that, we ask for a doctor’s excuse. Bear in mind that we have the option of modifying their activities, so that they can still participate. For instance, a student with a broken finger may still be able to do lower-body exercises, such as riding the stationary bicycle. To seek an excused absence for your child from physical activity, please contact one of the school nurses, who will coordinate the plan and communicate the necessary information to the appropriate PE or Dance teacher, as well as to the divisional administration.