School systems in central Virginia are playing catch-up to train all teachers in life-saving skills. A new law in effect Monday requires CPR and defibrillator training for teachers, and students are next in line to meet the mandate.
Starting Monday, all educators will need to prove they've taken the first aid training. That's one of three parts to this new law, which comes with a cost to schools without any extra funding.
The commonwealth is requiring these life-saving skills in the classroom.
"There's definitely a huge potential benefit," said Leanne Knox, Albemarle County Public Schools safety & wellness coordinator.
A new law mandates teachers complete training or certification in first aid and CPR in order to earn or renew their state license.
"We already have some people certified within our schools. This is just going to be the next step up from that," said Knox.
Albemarle County Public Schools will begin CPR sessions this month. The system expects to train 250 to 300 teachers before classes begin in August. Each summer, several hundred more will go through the process when they renew their licenses. Albemarle estimates the training will cost $20,000 over the next five years.
"This did come down from the state without funding, so it is something we're having to absorb the cost of, but ultimately it's a great thing," said Knox.
The law also says teachers need training to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED). The state is requiring every school install the heart-shocking device.
Right now, Albemarle County has AEDs in every high school and middle school, and some elementary schools.
"We are in the process of purchasing the rest so that there will be one in every school," said Knox.
All Charlottesville schools have at least one AED on campus. The city system is working on a training plan so its teachers comply with the new law.
"It's not a hands-on training. There doesn't have to be a hands-on training, so we're still developing what we will do," said Beth Baptist, Charlottesville Schools director of student services.
Charlottesville schools say this is a mandate they can live by.
"If one life is saved with CPR or the use of an AED, then it's worth whatever it will cost," said Baptist.
The third part of this law is for students. Starting in 2016, all ninth-graders will need the same training as teachers. Charlottesville schools already do CPR certification in seventh and ninth grades.
Albemarle County is currently working on its curriculum plan.
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