Bill Aimed at Helping Students with Severe Food Allergies Near Passage

One of the bills that could be left without action in the Connecticut General Assembly could have far-reaching health and safety consequences for school children with serious food allergies.

The bill would allow for children to carry epinephrine injectors with them on school buses, something currently prohibited, and mandate some basic training for school transportation workers like school bus drivers and monitors. Connecticut would join several other states that have similar provisions.

Scott Zweig spent part of his workday at the State Capitol advocating for the measure as a parent of a daughter with serious food allergies. His daughter Ava was diagnosed with an allergy to tree nuts.

“Every day my wife and I fear for her safety that in the 20 minutes, 10 minutes, between home and school, she might pick up a tree nut, or a wrapper and touch a seat that had a kid before with an almond or a walnut and she’ll go into anaphylaxis, and the bus driver won’t have a clue.”

The measure passed the Connecticut House with bipartisan support and is currently awaiting action in the Connecticut Senate.

The concerns from school bus operators and their association, COSTA, the Connecticut School Transportation Association, included the overall responsibilities of people who work on buses, and fear for their liability if a child has an allergic reaction.

The group testified back in March, "Our school bus drivers are trained to drive the bus, not perform medical interventions."

The bill is expected to pass through the Connecticut Senate, but it has to get called first. Other measures like the state budget could stop that from happening. Scott Zweig from West Hartford hopes lawmakers act to ease his fears.

“Until this bill passes, we won’t feel comfortable putting her on the school bus,” Sweig said.

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