When I went to elementary school in the 1970’s and 1980’s, my lunch box would often have a peanut butter sandwich in it. Times have changed. Public awareness of the danger of serious allergies has grown. Today, parents are much more careful about what goes in their kids’ lunches.
There is good reason to be careful. Anaphylactic reactions can be fatal. Sadly, in 2003 an Ontario student by the name of Sabrina Shannon died of an anaphylactic reaction in her first year of high school. Two years later, the Ontario government enacted Sabrina’s Law, which requires every school board in Ontario to establish and maintain an anaphylaxis policy to help keep students with serious allergies safe. The law also requires schools to create individual plans for each student at risk of anaphylaxis.
If a school board or a school board employee is grossly negligent in responding to anaphylactic reactions, the school board may be liable for damages for injury or death. Under our common law, school employees must take steps that reasonable parents would to keep children safe.
Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility. Fortunately, sixteen years after Sabrina’s tragic death, children, parents, teachers and school boards have all come a long way toward making school a safer place for children with severe allergies.