SB 120 Public Schools - Anaphylactic Food Allergies - Guidelines
BILL: SB 120
TITLE: Public Schools - Anaphylactic Food Allergies - Guidelines
DATE: February 2, 2023
COMMITTEE: Education, Energy, and the Environment
CONTACT: Mary Pat Fannon, Executive Director, PSSAM
The Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM), on behalf of all twenty-four Maryland local school superintendents, opposes Senate Bill 120.
Senate Bill 120 requires each county board of education to adopt, implement, and publish certain guidelines in accordance with the Maryland State School Health Service Guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to anaphylactic causative agents in classrooms and common areas. Further, it requires that each county board publish guidelines on its website, and that each public school develop a system to disclose the food to be served each school day and the major allergens contained in the food in advance of the school day.
The Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland, PSSAM, respectfully opposes House Bill 154. Under current law and regulations, public schools provide nutritional information on food that is served and provide peanut free tables in each school. Also, children with known allergens are trained to work with school health personnel if they have an allergic episode.
One of the more troubling aspects of this bill is the requirement that schools ensure that students with allergies are fully able to participate in field trips and after school activities. This is certainly something school administrators and health staff strive for with families and students with known allergies, but should not be mandated under state law. Further, the bill requires that school personnel monitor private food providers to ensure they are complying with this legislation. This is an overly burdensome mandate that would be very difficult to comply with, especially with the number of outside organizations that use our schools. Lastly, the requirement to provide epi-pens in the cafeteria, in addition to the health suites, is inappropriate and has practical difficulties. This medicine is most appropriately handled by school health personnel and should not be an obligation of cafeteria staff.
Teachers, school administrators, and all school staff are currently operating in an extremely stressful Covid environment, taxed beyond their normal duties; therefore, we cannot endorse any additional mandates for our school personnel at this time.
For the reasons stated above, PSSAM opposes Senate Bill 120 and requests an unfavorable report.