Santos MJL, Riediger N, Abrams EM, Piquemal N, Protudjer JLP
Nutrients 14 (13) - [2022-06-29; online 2022-06-29]
(1) Background: Approximately 7% of Canadian children live with a food allergy (FA). Pre-COVID-19, ~20% of anaphylactic reactions occurred in schools. Yet, teachers reported poor FA-related knowledge, and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic are not well-studied. Additionally, teachers' management approaches vary widely. We aimed to describe elementary school teachers' perceptions about FA management during the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) Methods: Using a semi-structured interview guide, English-speaking elementary school teachers in Winnipeg, Canada were interviewed virtually. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed thematically; (3) Results: Most teachers were female and taught in public schools. Two themes were identified. Theme 1, COVID-19 restrictions made mealtimes more manageable, capturing the positive impacts of pandemic restrictions such as seating arrangements and enhanced cleaning. Limited lunchtime supervision prompted some teachers to assume this role. Theme 2, Food allergy management was indirectly adapted to fit changing COVID-19 restrictions, describing how changing restrictions influenced FA-related practices. FA training was offered virtually with less nursing support. Class cohorts and remote learning decreased teachers' perceived risk and FA-related management responsibility; (4) Conclusions: COVID-19-related practices were perceived as positively influencing in-school FA management, although unintended consequences, such as increased supervisory roles for teachers and reduced nursing support, were described.