As a student who suffers from a life-threatening condition, John Mannes, the student member of the Board of Education, said he is glad to see more is being done statewide to help himself and others.
The board is asking people to comment by Oct. 15 on its draft policy that outlines emergency care for students experiencing anaphylaxis, a condition where an injection of epinephrine is needed immediately to treat life-threatening allergic reactions to food, insect bites or other environmental elements.
A bill was passed in the Maryland legislature this year that requires all school systems to create a policy outlining the emergency care.
About 4,000 students were known to be susceptible to anaphylaxis as of last year, and about half of those students provided their school with an EpiPen, the device used to inject the medicine, according to a memo from the school board's policy committee. But many times, a student does not know he or she is susceptible to the condition before a reaction happens — last school year, 27 of 97 students who experienced anaphylaxis were not known to be susceptible.
The policy would authorize the school nurse and other trained school personnel to administer the epinephrine to a student after recognizing symptoms of a reaction, regardless of whether the student has been identified as being susceptible or has a prescription. It also will require the superintendent to establish procedures regarding training, administration and follow-up.
Of the 97 students who experienced the condition last year, 39 were treated with the EpiPen that the students' parents had provided, 23 were treated by a school nurse with a syringe, and the remaining 35 did not receive treatment before emergency help arrived.
Board President Shirley Brandman (At-large) of Bethesda said that while the policy was created in response to the state law, the school system should look into what it can do to prevent exposure for students with the condition.
"I hope that more can be done in this area," he said.
To comment on the policy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.