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Fifth-grade students suspended for sharing nasal spray on school grounds

Children must observe rules about taking allergy medications on school grounds.

This year's early allergy season has claimed another victim after two Atlanta-area elementary school students were suspended for treating their nasal problems with one of their mother's nasal spray during school hours.

Atlanta has been inundated with record-high pollen counts in the last month, so the daughter of Marita Ballard-Murphy can hardly be blamed for bringing her mother's nasal spray with her to Sycamore Elementary School last Friday after she woke up with allergy symptoms.

After a school official saw her share the spray with a fellow fifth-grader, though, both students were suspended four days by the Gwinnett Country for their actions, causing their mothers to question whether the punishment truly fit the crime.

"I was shocked that they didn't call me earlier and I was shocked that they jumped to that conclusion," mother Tanthia Reid, whose daughter received the nasal spray from Ballard-Murphy's daughter, told Atlanta news source WSB-TV. "I don't think that either her or her best friend distinguished that this is a prescription drug. She's only 10."

The school district's policy is that medications must be given to students by a certified school official at a specific location, which did not include the playground where the girls were found taking the medication. School district officials have said they will reconsider the suspensions.

Other school districts across the nation are likely to have similar rules in place, so parents should stress to their children the importance of treating their allergies in a safe way that does not violate any known policies. If parents determine that children are old enough to receive these types of treatments, sprays should be administered by the parent in the morning, before school, so that symptoms can be reduced for the rest of the day.

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