School district denies girl her allergy medicine

'It came completely out of the blue and they're calling it policy'

A Kamloops mom feels like she has been blindsided by school district policies that now forbid her daughter to be administered Benadryl at school for her allergies.

"I've never before had a problem with this," Susan Swift told The Daily News Friday. "It just seems as though they are drawing up this policy at the school now."

Her daughter, Sophie, 5, has a number of allergies she takes Benadryl for to ease the symptoms. Swift usually gives Sophie a dose in the morning and at another time during the day.

"They are fairly mild in nature. It's just like somebody struggling through allergy season when their eyes are really itchy and red and their nose is running," she said.

Sophie also has a nut allergy and has an EpiPen with her at all times.

While in kindergarten at Bert Edwards Science and Technology school, staff had no problem giving Sophie a dose of Benadryl when she needed one. And there wasn't an issue when Swift moved her daughter to South Sahali elementary for French immersion, said Swift.

Her daughter would be given the Benadryl, a note put on her file, and Swift told of the incident, she said.

This September, administration told Swift they wouldn't give her daughter Benadryl anymore. Not only that, she wasn't allowed to bring the medicine to school, said Swift.

She was also told she would have to leave work and give Sophie the Benadryl, even though Sophie can take the medication herself.

When Swift asked why, she was told it's a school district policy. And because Sophie is anaphylactic, there's a concern about confusing anaphylactic and allergic symptoms.

"It came completely out of the blue and they're calling it policy," she said.

From the Kamloops-Thompson School District's perspective, it is policy. Assistant superintendent Karl deBruijn said it's several policies actually, including an anaphylactic policy and medical alert policy, which have been around for years.

When asked why Sophie was given Benadryl before, deBruijn said she shouldn't have been. He said Benadryl can mask the symptoms of anaphylaxis and put a child's life at risk.

"We don't think it's safe. We're not going to do anything that we don't think is safe," said deBruijn.

Swift is worried Sophie won't be able to go on field trips if she can't take her medication along. She's also concerned her job will suffer and Sophie will develop a dependency on her if she has to run to her daughter's rescue all the time.

"It's completely ridiculous," said Swift.

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