As kids head back to school, parents of children coping with food allergies are on tenterhooks, concerned as their kids leave the relative safety of their homes for school where they have little control.
You’ve done what you can by engaging with the school administration. IEP or 504 plan in place? Check. Emergency Action Plan distributed to teachers? Check. School nurse has epinephrine on-hand? Check. Epinephrine available on school bus and driver trained to administer it?
There are still many school districts that have yet to address this problem: What if my child experiences a severe reaction on the bus? Are they permitted to self carry/self administer? Does the bus driver have access to stock epinephrine? Does he or she know how to recognize the signs of anaphylaxis and administer an auto-injector?
Back in May of last year, Connecticut passed HB 5452, legislation requiring school bus drivers to receive training in recognizing the symptoms of anaphylaxis and administering epinephrine. The legislation also expanded Good Samaritan provisions to shield drivers from liability when intervening to save a child from anaphylaxis. The legislation took effect on June 30 of this year, making this school year the first with these protections in place.
Here is a news report from WTNH-TV from the perspective of parents of a daughter with a tree nut allergy who will be shuttling to school under the new provisions:
What about your school district? Are provisions in place to protect your child on the way to and from school? Is there a trained adult available with access to epinephrine should the unthinkable happen?
If you are not sure, we suggest you contact your local board of education. Ensuring a child’s safety — especially one with a serious health issue like food allergies — requires a plan that covers them from the time they leave your home to the time they return.