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After Boy Dies From Allergic Reaction, City Requires Child Care Staff To Call 911 In Emergencies

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Top city officials joined forces Monday after a 3-year-old boy died from an allergic reaction at his Harlem school.

As CBS2's Reena Roy reported, they announced a new requirement to make sure it does not happen again.

Elijah Silvera was preschooler at the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Harlem, which remained closed Monday as the investigation into his death continued. Elijah's family said staff at the preschool did not call 911 when he had an allergic reaction – and now, the city will be making that a requirement.

Elijah had recently started at the preschool, but he never made it home the day he had the allergic reaction a little more than a week ago. Relatives said he was given a grilled cheese sandwich despite the school documenting and knowing about his severe allergy to dairy.

"We are doing everything we can to make sure that an incident like this never happens again," said Administration for Children's Services Commissioner David Hansell.

On Monday, the city's commissioners for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the ACS announced that all child care staff will now be required to call 911 when a student has a medical emergency.

That is in addition to following a child's personal safety protocol, which officials say the Seventh Avenue Center, an ACS Early Learn Center, failed to do.

"The individual safety plan that this site had onsite was not being followed," said Health Department Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

The new rule will be implemented soon and will also be included in the yearly training for early learning and pre-K staff members.

"It's always better to be safe than sorry," Hansell said.

There are almost 400 ACS Early Learn centers across the city that are run by community-based organizations. One mother of a 4-year-old girl with allergies said she trusts the staff at her daughter's site – the Bloomingdale Family Program at 109th Street.

"Obviously, you're going to be a little worried," the woman said. "I mean, anything can happen, but for the most part, I feel that they're very strict here."

The Seventh Avenue Center will be closed indefinitely until the Health Department deems it safe again. Until then, other children will have to be relocated.

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