[r63] Heading back to the classroom

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, August 1, 2014

It may only be the beginning of August, but for many local students, this means it is time to go back to school! Personally, I cannot believe how quickly the summer has flown by, and it seems like just yesterday when students were being released for summer vacation. 

Soon, young Hoosiers will be swapping days at the pool for days in the classroom, starting the next phase of their life. Last year, just before the 2013-2014 school year, I talked about the ‘new’ adjustments that come with the start of each new school year, which can be a challenging time for both students and parents. These adjustments can include everything from a new teacher, to a new bus or even a new extracurricular activity. As a parent, one thing that always eased my mind was the assurance that my children would be safe. So, in honor of another school year, I would like to share with you our legislative efforts to increase student safety in the classroom. 

For starters, I supported legislation which allows a health care provider, who has prescriptive authority, to prescribe auto-injectable epinephrine to a school or school district. This legislation also sets requirements for certain individuals employed by a school or school district to fill, store and administer the EpiPen. 

Countless children are diagnosed with food allergies every year, so it is imperative that school employees are prepared in the event that a student goes into anaphylactic shock.  While immediate medical treatment is still necessary after the use of an EpiPen, not using it at all can be life-threatening. When literally every moment counts, epinephrine will begin to reverse a severe allergic reaction, and when used immediately, may prove to be life-saving. 

The training of volunteer school employees required by this new law will equal around $20 per course. However, I am sure many would agree that it is a small price to pay. In addition, Mylan Specialty, the marketer and distributor of epinephrine has a program that allows qualified schools to obtain auto-injectors at no cost. By allowing Hoosier schools to obtain a valid prescription, this new law has made our schools one step closer to qualifying. 

Another potential life-threatening situation that may face Hoosier students is sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and affects our youth at an alarming rate. That is why I also supported legislation which seeks to provide guidelines and training that will reduce heart attacks for student athletes by educating them and equipping athletic trainers to detect warnings of heart problems. 

Now, any student athlete who is suspected of experiencing a symptom of sudden cardiac arrest must be immediately removed from the athletic activity and cannot return to practice or play until their parent has been informed and given them permission to do so.  By providing guidelines, information sheets and forms on the nature and risk of sudden cardiac arrest, parents will be empowered and able to make the most informed decision they can, regarding their child’s health and safety.

With the changes that take place at the start of each new school year, there is no denying that it can be a tad stressful. However, I hope that by passing laws to increase student safety, we put your mind at ease so rather than being stressful, this can be an exciting time. 

As parents, we enjoy watching our children learn and grow each year, and as a legislator, it is exciting to see the achievements of Indiana’s students, our state’s future leaders. If there is anything I can do to be of assistance this school year, please do not hesitate to call.