CPS to enact new policies on allergies, diabetes, asthma management

Posted: 1/25/2012

By Chicago Tribune:

Chicago Public Schools is planning to start stocking epinephrine injectors at schools to treat life-threatening allergic reactions.

A state law signed by the governor this summer allows districts to stock EpiPens and authorizes school officials to give an epinephrine shot to any student suffering a severe allergic reaction. The law came in response to the 2010 death of Chicago Public Schools student Katelyn Carlson, who had an allergic reaction to peanuts during a school party.

By the beginning of next school year, CPS hopes to stock four to six pens per school, costing the district about $195,000.

CPS says an estimated 4,000 students have diagnosed allergies. The district's new policy, on the agenda to be approved by the Board of Education Wednesday, allows a nurse to use the EpiPen on any student believed to be having a life-threatening reaction, even if the child has not been diagnosed with an allergy.

Students will also be allowed to carry and self-administer their own Epi-pens with the written approval of a parent or guardian.

Meanwhile, the district also has developed new asthma and diabetes management policies, which allow students to carry and self-administer asthma inhalers, check glucose levels or self-inject insulin, provided they have written authorization from parents and a valid prescription. Previously, a doctor's consent was required, said CPS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus.

Not all CPS schools have a nurse, so the district policies provide for staff to be trained on how to recognize symptoms in emergency situations. With diabetes cases, under state law every student will get a delegated aide trained to assist them. Currently, CPS has 659 students with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

More than 19,000 CPS students suffer from asthma. The district's new policy will require designated staff to complete in-service training once every two years on the management and prevention of asthma symptoms as well as emergency response.

District officials say should the asthma policy be approved Wednesday, CPS will become the first large school district in the country with a standalone policy for students suffering from asthma. The policy will require parents to notify schools upon a child being diagnosed with asthma, informing the district of past asthma episodes, triggers and warning signs.

Original here.