VA schools step closer to having emergency allergy medication

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Virginia schools are one step closer to being required to have emergency epinephrine on hand for allergic reactions. This after the death of 7-year-old Amarria Johnson earlier this year in Chesterfield County.

The governor signed off on amendments to emergency epinephrine legislation. Now with the belief this will be law by this summer, Chesterfield is working to get policies in place before the new school year.

According to the governor's office, the law would take effect July 1st to put EpiPens in all Virginia schools. One amendment gives districts the summer to answer a few questions of their own so they can have policies in place by the fall.

"We're very supportive of the legislation, but that would allow us some additional time," said Chesterfield Schools Spokesman, Shawn Smith.

Smith said the legislation established work groups led by health and education professionals.

"That's establishing up front how the medicine would be administered, also establishing protocols for receiving that medicine legally for a school division, as well as protocols for when it would be administered, as well as necessary training," said Smith.

The training is what matters most to Amarria Johnson's mother, Laura Pendleton.

"That's the biggest thing this law beyond anything is going to ensure they are educated. They can identify this child is in shock, what do we do next," said Pendleton.

Pendleton said she still has unanswered questions about the circumstances around her daughter's death in January.

Amarria died after police said another student gave the first grader a peanut during recess at Hopkins Elementary.

"If you knew Amarria, you would know she would not eat something she was allergic to, so I'm stuck on January 2nd. How did this happen," said Pendleton.

For now, Pendleton is grateful epinephrine could soon be available to all children in Virginia schools who may not know they have allergies but need it in an emergency.

"My daughter she is now going to be forever remembered because of this tragedy and something positive did come out of it," said Pendleton.

The General Assembly is expected to take up the amendments next week. Chesterfield schools said it will provide funding for the life saving medication in the county.

It also asks that parents continue to keep the district informed about their children's allergies and have an emergency plan in place.

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