SPRINGFIELD – A new law designed to make Illinois’ schools safer for students and staff was signed by the governor this week and goes into effect Friday.
The most important part of the law, an initiative of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, state Sen. Andy Manar, D–Bunker Hill, and Rep. Michelle Mussman, D–Schaumburg, is expanded access to life-saving epinephrine auto-injectors or epi-pens. Epi-pens are used to treat a person in anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction.
“More and more children are being diagnosed with food allergies, with peanuts, eggs, milk, soy, and wheat as the most common triggers,” Manar said. “Ensuring timely access to this life-saving medication can mean the difference between life and death for a child.”
The law allows trained school employees and volunteers to administer an epi-pen to anyone at the school. The law sets training requirements for school personnel, and with parental consent allows a student to carry and administer their own epi-pen as well as their asthma medication.
“I am very proud to have worked with the Attorney General’s office and all concerned parties to clarify and improve the Emergency Epinephrine Act,” Mussman said. “Food allergies are on the rise, and it is vital that children and adults in our school buildings have timely access to this life-saving medication.”
Studies show that 25 percent of first-time allergic reactions among children occur at school. Many schools in Illinois lack a full-time nurse on staff, raising concerns that the life-saving medicine may not be readily available in an emergency. The new law also provides liability protection for school districts and employees when an epi-pen injection is administered. The law is effective Aug. 1.