Arlington, VA — An estimated 4 to 6 percent of American children have food allergies, and many of these children will have a severe allergic reaction while at school. Tragically, every year some of these reactions are fatal. It then stands to reason that the calls for comprehensive school policies to mitigate severe allergic reactions have grown significantly in recent years, and the need will only increase as the number of children with allergies continues to grow. To this end, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) released a new discussion guide to provide a comprehensive treatment of the issue and set the stage for policy development of anaphylaxis and epinephrine policies.

The guide, Anaphylaxis and Schools: Developing Policies for Treating Students with Severe Allergic Reactions, identifies viable state, district, and individual school policy solutions; highlights states that have already taken important steps to address the issue; and provides a framework for discussions that can lead to the development of new policies and other state-level actions.

Included in this guide are the most recent data on the prevalence of anaphylaxis; treatment and exposure reduction strategies; gaps in current school plans and procedures for meeting this challenge; elements of effective policies currently in use; state-level actions to address these issues; and policy discussion worksheets with the critical questions boards need to consider during policy development.

“Students and their parents need to feel secure that schools are safe places to learn and grow,” said NASBE Executive Director Kristen Amundson. “State policies and guidance to mitigate the exposure of students with allergies to known allergens are critical to uniform practices in all schools. Policymakers also need to address the use and storage of epinephrine, especially given that 25 percent of students suffering reactions at school have not yet been diagnosed with allergies. As a national leader in state-level student health policy, NASBE is uniquely positioned to provide policymakers with the best information, analysis, and discussion frameworks to help them make these decisions.”

The discussion guide and related materials are available free on NASBE’s website. NASBE will also host an open webinar to guide potential users on how to best utilize the discussion guide, to have questions answered by experts in the subject, and to share best practices.

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The National Association of State Boards of Education represents America’s state and territorial boards of education. NASBE exists to strengthen state boards as the preeminent educational policymaking bodies for citizens and students. For more, visit www.nasbe.org.