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New law requires schools be trained to recognize seizures

The Virginia House of Delegates recently passed Seizure Safe Schools legislation by a 86-13 vote.

The bill, also known as the Jamie and Brie Strong Act, provides schools with the resources to protect students in the event of a seizure. It now makes its way to the governor’s desk having already passed the Senate in a 35-4 vote.

“This bill is of critical importance, because there are only vague standards for how to treat seizures in our schools,” Suzanne Bischoff, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia (EFVA), said. “In many hours of mediating between parents and schools it has become clear that well-prepared teachers not only save their pupils, but also save themselves lots of time.”

Last year, the Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia provided 1,200 school staff with voluntary seizure recognition and first aid training. The bill makes this type of training mandatory. The key bill components are that:

• All school nurses and staff receive biennial training in seizure recognition and first aid

• Schools carry seizure action plans, which contain detailed information about seizure treatment, for all students with a history of epilepsy or a seizure disorder

• A Good Samaritan Clause protecting those responding to the seizure from legal action

Epilepsy affects 11,000 school children in Virginia, but of course, anyone can have a seizure at any time. In fact, the Epilepsy Foundation estimates that 1 in 10 people will experience a seizure in their lifetime. If signed by Governor Northam, Virginia would become the six0th state to enact the Epilepsy Foundation’s Seizure Safe Schools policy, joining the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey and Texas.