As schools prepare for children to return full time, we have been contacted by concerned parents and school staff about how the COVID-19 epidemic and the restrictions in place because of it, affect the giving of emergency treatment to children experiencing a severe allergic reaction/anaphylaxis.
We wrote to the Department for Education in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland requesting that clear guidance be issued for schools on this matter. We have now received a reply from John Swinney, The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, and Sarah Lewis, Early Years and Schools Group, on behalf of Andrew McCully, Department for Education.
Scottish Government letter
The letter outlines the Scottish Government’s support for schools holding ‘spare’ adrenaline auto-injectors and confirmed that the ‘Supporting children and young people with healthcare needs in schools: guidance’ published in December 2017 will still apply. The letter goes on to state:
Our guidance on plans for the return of schools have been clear that there will be circumstances, in order to provide intimate care and medication, where physical distancing will not be appropriate, and that in some cases, the need for personal and protective equipment will be considered. The Scottish Government is updating the guidance for the re-opening of schools, in support of our aim to return to schools in August and that there will not be a need for physical distancing of pupils. However, that also means that the guidance which I referred to above, on the management of healthcare needs in schools will also be in force, and will again guide those in schools on how to respond appropriately, in these circumstances.
You can read the full letter here: Scottish Government Letter
Department for Education letter
The letter from the Department for Education confirmed that its approach to supporting children with medical conditions returning to school will be similar to pre-COVID support, as outlined in the supporting pupils with medical conditions at school guidance.
In addition to this, in the case of an anaphylactic reaction, the letter states:
in the case of an anaphylactic reaction, it is critical that assistance is given immediately. Following your letter, we have therefore liaised with Public Health England and I can confirm that we are now taking forward updates to our guidance on the full opening of schools, as well as our guidance for other education settings, to make absolutely clear that children and young people should always receive prompt and appropriate treatment, in the event of a medical emergency. We will be explicit that, in the case of a medical emergency, people do not need to stay 2 metres apart.
You can read the full letter here: Department for Education letter
Welsh Government letter
The Welsh Government’s Minister for Education confirmed that it will be made clear that in the event of a medical emergency, children and young people should always receive prompt and appropriate treatment, and that healthcare and AAI guidance will still apply.
The letter continues:
It is to be expected that in a medical emergency people may need to be less than two metres apart and may be administering emergency medical care without PPE. We will make this clear on our website as part of our frequently asked questions which are updated regularly.
You can read the full letter here: Welsh Government Letter
We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops.