Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Bill Protecting Students with Allergies Becomes Law

New York, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) announced today that her bill to provide teachers with informational materials on the use of epinephrine auto-injectors was signed into law by the Governor. The bill requires that all teachers of public and non-public schools be provided with written materials explaining the proper use of epinephrine auto-injectors. The bill was sponsored by Cordell Cleare in the state Senate. 

“It is estimated that two children in every classroom suffer from food allergies, making it impossible to know when the next allergic reaction may occur,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Empowering teachers by providing them with the information necessary to intervene during an allergic reaction will save lives.”

Approximately 32 million Americans live with food allergies, including more than six million children. This figure has grown in recent years: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that between 1997-1999 and 2009-2011, food allergies among children increased by 50 percent. Despite schools being authorized to stock epinephrine auto-injectors, training on administering the devices is not required of teachers. 

When administered quickly, epinephrine can reverse the symptoms of an allergic reaction, which may include hives, rashes, nausea and even difficulty breathing. Epinephrine auto-injectors have been designed to be user-friendly, only requiring a person remove the cap and press the injector against a person’s thigh.

Research has estimated that more than 15% of school-aged children with food allergies have experienced a reaction while at school. Students with food allergies may consume a food without knowing it contains an allergen, or they may experience an allergic reaction to a particular food for the first time while at school. The United States Food and Drug Administration recognizes milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybeans and sesame as being the most common allergens.

“Many students experience an allergic reaction for the first time while in school, and others with allergies can become too frightened or ill to administer the auto-injector themselves,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “A person is admitted to the emergency room for an allergic reaction every three minutes in the United States. Providing this information will help ensure the safety of students in the classroom and help teachers be prepared in the event of an emergency.”

The passage of this legislation comes after more than a decade of advocacy by Assemblymember Rosenthal, food allergy safety organizations and parents of children with food allergies. 

“This bill will save lives; in particular, the lives of school children who may go into anaphylactic shock and need immediate professional intervention to avoid catastrophic results. By requiring the proactive provision of training materials to teachers in schools that maintain epinephrine auto-injectors on site all professionals in the school setting may learn how to use one in advance of the time coming when it may actually be needed—giving students and parents alike peace of mind,” said New York State Senator Cordell Cleare.

“Thanks to all of the hard work of Assembly Member Rosenthal and Senator Cleare, all teachers in New York State will now be provided with the knowledge of how to save a student's life if they experience anaphylaxis in school.This law will make a huge difference in the lives of all NY families with school-aged children living with food allergies.Today’s bill means parents can send their food allergic children to school knowing their teachers are trained to protect them.And kids can go to school and learn, less anxious about their ever present food allergies,” said Stacey Saiontz, FARE Advocacy Advisory Committee member and parent of a child with allergies living in Westchester County.

“Thank you to Governor Hochul, Assembly Member Rosenthal and Senator Cleare for making the teacher training law a reality.As a student living with many life threatening food allergies, I know this law will allow all students like me to thrive in school without fear, knowing that the teachers around them have the tools and training to protect us,” said Jared Saiontz, son of Stacey Saiontz, and fifteen-year-old student with food allergies.

“On behalf of the more than 215,000 New York state students with potentially life-threatening food allergies, FARE is grateful for the work of Assemblymember Rosenthal, Senator Cleare, and advocates like Stacey and Jared Saiontz and Jill Mindlin and Maya Konoff as for more than 12 years they fought an uphill battle to make our classrooms safer. With today’s bill signing, we celebrate their determination to protect the millions of food allergic children who will ultimately benefit from this new law,” said Jason Linde, Senior Vice President of Advocacy at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

“As a pediatrician and someone with food allergies, I know firsthand the impact this bill will have on improving access to anaphylactic treatments in schools. Epinephrine autoinjectors are safe and easy to use and timely administration saves lives. Empowering teachers with the skills to recognize an anaphylactic reaction and to use an epinephrine autoinjector will bring us one step closer to making schools a safe space for all kids,” said Zara Rafi Atal, MD.

“Empowering educators with the knowledge and tools to respond to food allergy emergencies can make all the difference between a close call and a tragedy. This bill equips our schools with the essential resources to not only identify the signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction but to act without hesitation by administering life-saving epinephrine. When we arm educators with this capability, we’re not just improving school safety; we’re actively saving young lives,” said Thomas Silvera, Co-Founder/President of the Elijah-Alavi Foundation, Inc.