CPS to stock EpiPens, propose new health policies

January 24, 2012

(Flickr/Kiwinky)

Chicago Public Schools announced it will begin to stock EpiPens, which are used to inject medication into a person experiencing anaphylaxis shock. The medication and delivery tool of the EpiPen can be life-saving for those with severe allergies to food or other substances. 

EpiPens will begin being stocked at all Chicago Public Schools pending approval by the Board of Education at a meeting Wednesday.

According to a CPS press release, if approved, CPS will have authorization to purchase "a quantity sufficient to provide between four and six devices per school."

Stocking schools with EpiPens will bring the District into compliance with a state law passed this year, and is expected to cost around $195,000. The District's Office of Special Education and Supports is charged with the purchase and distribution of the devices.

EpiPens are expected to be in schools before the 2012-13 school year. CPS estimates 4,000 of its students have diagnosed allergies. The press release did not state whether EpiPens would be rstocked after use, and who would pay for restocking. The new policy also allows students to carry and self-administer EpiPens, as well as their own asthma inhalers when authorized by a parent or guardian.

All CPS staff would also be required to undergo training for: management and prevention of allergic reactions; identifying and treating Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); and on diabetes management and asthma.

Regarding diabetes management, the district is also proposing policy that complies with state guidelines. Under state policy, if a school nurse can not assist a student with diabetes, the school must have a "Delegated Care Aide" for every student with diabetes at a school. CPS cited 659 documented cases of students with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

A CPS press release also said it will propose its first-ever asthma management policy to the Board of Education this week. CPS said it has more than 19,000 students with documented cases of asthma, or roughly five percent of its student population.

Proposed policy also addresses requirements for student access to over-the-counter medication. Students would no longer require a medical provider to authorize OTC use, but would require a parent or guardian to do so. Students would not be allowed to carry OTC medication during school hours.