Chicago schools will lead nation in on-site allergy and asthma treatments
The school system that dealt with the 2010 death of a student after she was exposed to an allergen is now ready to embrace its role as a leader in allergy management and as the first large district in the nation to adopt a policy for students who suffer from asthma symptoms.
In December 2010, Katelyn Carlson, a 13-year-old attending Thomas A. Edison Regional Gifted Center, suffered anaphylaxis after she consumed peanuts. Although she was rushed to the hospital, medical professionals were not able to save her life.
Last summer, the Illinois state legislature passed a law that will put four to six epinephrine injectors in all Chicago Public School facilities beginning next academic year, in order to prevent another student from suffering a severe allergic reaction. The injectors, in addition to the training of school officials to administer the medications, will cost the district $195,000.
The law also will help 19,000 students who suffer from asthma symptoms by allowing them to carry their inhalers, and use them if necessary, without a doctor's approval. In place of a note from a physician, parents can notify the school of their children's condition. School officials will also be trained to assist students who experience an asthma attack and be taught how to create an environment that does not harm asthma sufferers.
Chicago parents whose children suffer from either allergies or asthma are fortunate that the school system has been so proactive in reforming its policies to help these individuals. Time will tell other school districts follow suit, but after high-profile incidents in Virginia last month – where a 7-year-old died from being exposed to peanuts – and elsewhere, some parents may continue to appeal to schools to institute similar policies.