RICHMOND -- With the start of the new school year, school nurses or trained school employees can administer an EpiPen shot to students having allergic reactions.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) signed the legislation Thursday to require school boards to adopt and implement policies for the possession and administration of epinephrine.

The legislation was crafted after a first grader in Chesterfield County died at school after eating a peanut during recess.

The state budget passed last week includes $200,000 to support the purchase of epinephrine injectors for Virginia public schools during the 2012-2013 school year.

'This legislation and the money in the recently passed budget will help prevent another tragedy like Amarria Johnson's from occurring in a public school in the Commonwealth. Having a plan in place and access to epinephrine in schools, where children spend half their day, is critical,' Gov. McDonnell said during the signing ceremony at Binford Middle School.

State-level guidelines will be developed by July 1 and school boards will adopt and implement the new policy at the start of the 2012-2013 school year.

'Once the division receives the state-level guidelines, in Student Health Services staff will be in the position to recommend/develop the necessary protocols and policies,' Va. Beach Schools spokeswoman Eileen Cox told

The Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is happy the legislation was signed into law.

'With so many reactions occurring in children with previously unidentified allergies, having a plan in place and access to epinephrine in schools where children spend half their day is critical,' William B. Moskowitz, M.D., President of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a news release.

Food allergies are estimated to affect one in 25 school-aged children and are the most common trigger of anaphylaxis in this age group, the group added.

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