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Sabrina's Law - An Act to Protect Anaphylactic Pupils - Effective January 1, 2006

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Introduction

  • With the increase of students with severe allergies attending our schools, ETFO members are understandably concerned about the possibility of administering emergency procedures such as the Epi-pen.
  • It is important to note that the administration of the Epi-pen could save a life, while failure to do so could result in serious illness or death. It is imperative that members be aware of their rights and responsibilities with regard to the administration of Epi-pens.

Sabrina’s Law

  • Sabrina’s Law, an Act to Protect Anaphylactic Pupils, was named after a young girl who died of anaphylactic shock following exposure in her school.
  • This law came into effect in January of 2006 and aimed to better protect students with life threatening allergies.
  • This law requires all school boards to establish and maintain an anaphylactic policy, which must include strategies to reduce risk of exposure to anaphylactic causative agents in classrooms and common school areas.
  • The school board must develop a communication plan to share information on life threatening allergies with parents, pupils, and employees.
  • The school board must also provide training on dealing with life threatening allergies for all employees in regular contact with students.

Individual Plans (IPs)

  • Principals are now required to develop individual plans (IPs) for students with anaphylactic allergies. The IP must inform employees in direct contact with the student of the type of allergy, monitoring, avoidance strategies and appropriate treatment.
  • The IP must also include readily accessible emergency procedures and storage for epinephrine auto injectors (Epi-pens).

What can members reasonably insist upon before administering epinephrine auto injectors (Epi-pens) in an emergency situation?

  • Under Sabrina’s Law, the school board must provide education workers (including teachers, occasional teachers, DECEs, ESPs, PSPs) with regular training in dealing with life threatening allergies. This should include education in the use of the Epi-pen.
  • The school board must adopt strategies to restrict the presence of allergies that are likely to trigger an anaphylactic reaction in the classroom and common school areas.
  • The school board must communicate information on life threatening allergies to everyone in the school community (i.e. teachers, parents, staff and students) about the risks posed by anaphylaxis and how to recognize the symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction.
  • The school board must ensure that there is a storage plan for Epi-pens and that there is a plan in place for emergency administration.
  • ETFO members must be advised of which students in the school are susceptible to an anaphylactic reaction and which allergies are known for each student.
  • ETFO members should be advised of the identity of any person pre-authorized to administer the Epi-pen.

What practical considerations should ETFO members be aware of before they administer Epi-pens in emergency situations?

  • The Epi-pen is easy to administer.
  • The Epi-pen does not pose a health risk to students even if it is administered unnecessarily.
  • The Epi-pen can be self-administered, but it should generally be done by, or with the assistance of an adult because the onset of anaphylaxis can be debilitating.
  • Sabrina’s Law provides immunity from lawsuits for any act done in good faith in response to an anaphylactic reaction.

Legal Obligations Members have with Regard to Administering Epi-pens

  • Section 20(g) (Duties of Teachers) of Regulation 298 under the Education Act requires teachers to ensure that all reasonable safety procedures are carried out in courses and activities for which the teacher is responsible.
  • This includes positive steps that a reasonable parent would take to safeguard the health and safety of students.
  • School boards and principals are primarily responsible under Sabrina’s Law for putting reasonable policies, systems, files, education and plans in place to deal with anaphylaxis. All members of ETFO should inform themselves about these policies.
  • Collective agreements may have provisions limiting a member’s responsibility for performing medical procedures of any sort, but in an emergency situation the member may have to administer the Epi-pen because of the life threatening nature of anaphylaxis.

Human Rights Code

The school board must accommodate a student’s susceptibility to anaphylaxis if the student is identified as having a disability under the Human Rights Code. It would be considered discriminatory not to do so.

For more information call Professional Relations Staff (PRS) in Protective Services at 1-888-838-3836 or 416-962-3836.