When I was in school I don’t recall a classmate with a peanut allergy or any allergy that required a complete removal of a particular item. Asthma was rare in my memory. There were a few disabilities physical and mental. Now it seems there is an explosion of severe life threatening allergies. More and more children with a mental health diagnosis. I don’t have research and this post isn’t about my perception in change. It’s about the need I see in schools.
Yes there are schools with a nurse unfortunately due to budget cuts you may have a nurse 2 or 3 days a week. For the children in great need often a caregiver is assigned to the child. However that need may take time to be filled. At my school we had a nurse I never met. I was told she came in once a week. Medications were often distributed by the office manager who was trained to distribute meds and use epipens. Problem, if a student on the 3rd floor goes into shock the epipen is on the 1st floor. In my class I had two students on medication, one with a physical disability and 5 with asthma. That was almost 33% of my class. With the medical needs of children shouldn’t all teachers receive some form of medical training. Beyond CPR and First Aide, should all teachers know how to distribute medication, signs and symptoms of common child emergencies and how to evacuate a disabled child in an emergency. Well the answer is of course. Problem who pays for this training? School budgets, especially in low income areas, are tight. Schools are fighting for their fair share of the basics how then can they ask for a service that on paper seems unnecessary. School has nurse, check. School has 1 or 2 staff trained in medication distribution, check. School has someone trained on epipen and defibrillator, check. Problem solved. Unfortunately the realities don’t match what is on paper. I failed a fire drill because my physical needs student couldn’t get down the stairs and I couldn’t pick her up. I had a student who had an asthma attack in gym class twice. Teachers should receive more training in case of emergency. There will be some who will say well pay out of your own pocket. Well we also have families and bills and the cost of this type of training is not necessarily feasible.