At its regular meeting Monday, Aug. 10, Westerville school board members discussed the possibility of purchasing $15,000 worth of the generic epinephrine auto-injectors -- or "EpiPens" -- for district schools.
Epinephrine is a prescription drug used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions caused by insect bites or stings, foods, medications, latex, and other items.
Deborah Meissner, the district's director of health and safety, presented the proposal to the board and stated that one in four children have their first allergic reaction at school.
For this reason and others, a committee of parents and school nurses researched and studied this idea and recommended the board to approve the proposal.
As written now, the proposal would ask each building principal to maintain at least two EpiPens somewhere in their buildings.
Meissner said she anticipated grant money would cover the cost of the EpiPens for a period of time, but wasn't sure how long the grant money would last.
House Bill 296, allowing Ohio schools to carry EpiPens, was passed back in April 2014.
Board President Tracy Davidson shared her personal experience with EpiPens.
"I have a son with severe allergies and I've had to use an EpiPen myself. I know that seconds matter in those situations," she said.
"I think an EpiPen needs to be in every classroom and even then I worry that will give a false sense of security."
She brought up the issue of training staff members to use the EpiPens and figuring out the best way to store the EpiPens in easily accessible but safe places like on the playground or in the cafeteria.
"There is a large conversation that needs to be had about this. If we are going to do this, then we need to go all the way," she said.
Board member Rick Vilardo said it concerned him that 25 percent of students have a reaction at school and the district might not be prepared.
"I want to hear feedback about this issue because it seems to have pretty significant benefits. The cost doesn't matter to me if it means saving the life of a child," he said.
Board member Nancy Nestor-Baker said she is very much in favor of what she called "this life-changing policy."
School districts in Akron have already accepted similar policies and local districts like Grandview Heights, Groveport Madison and Hilliard are considering it.
The second reading of the policy is scheduled for the next board meeting which will be Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. at the Early Learning Center at 936 Eastwind Drive.