Imagine being scared to go to school for fear that you will have a seizure, and no one will be able to help you. The Epilepsy Foundation believes every student deserves to feel safe in school.
Approximately 470,000 children and teens live with epilepsy in the United States. Epilepsy is a medical condition characterized by seizures, which are sudden surges of electrical activity in the brain that affect a variety of mental and physical functions. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that students 6-17 years of age living with epilepsy were more likely to miss 11 or more days of school in the past year, as compared to students with other health concerns.
A seizure can happen to any person, in any place, at any time. Students are in a school setting for many hours of the day, and therefore it may be where a student experiences their first seizure or a seizure after being diagnosed. Proper seizure first aid and continuity of care while at school is crucial to ensuring students with epilepsy can reach their full potential with as minimal disruption to their learning environment as possible.
The Seizure Safe Schools Act is a nationwide initiative to ensure that schools are well-equipped with the tools necessary to provide a safe and supportive environment for students living with epilepsy and seizure disorders. The model bill has five key components:
- Requiring school personnel to complete seizure recognition and first-aid response training
- Mandating that a Seizure Action Plan is made part of the student’s file and made available to school personnel and volunteers responsible for the student
- Ensuring that any medication approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and prescribed by a treating physician is administered to the student living with epilepsy
- Educating and training students about epilepsy and first-aid response
- A Good Samaritan clause
To date, 16 states have passed legislation ensuring that their schools are seizure safe, and other states have laid important groundwork. The Epilepsy Foundation continues to work with its network of staff, grassroots advocates, and nearly 40 organizational partners to pass seizure-safe school legislation in the remaining 34 states and Washington, D.C.
In addition, the Epilepsy Foundation believes everyone should be seizure first-aid certified. According to the CDC, 25% of the general public say they would be nervous around a person with epilepsy. In partnership with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation developed three types of school training for school nurses, personnel, and students. These trainings are free and available either online or in person.
To sign up for a seizure first aid training, visit learn.epilepsy.com.