01/07/2012 01:56 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ammaria Johnson, First Grader, Dies After Alleged Allergic Reaction At School (VIDEO) (POLL)

Ammaria Johnson, 7, died Monday at Virginia's Hopkins Elementary School from an alleged allergic reaction to peanuts after breaking out in hives and experiencing shortness of breath -- sparking wide discussion on schools' ability to handle severe allergic reactions in children, CNN reports.

Johnson was in cardiac arrest by the time emergency crews arrived at the school around 2:30pm, WTVR TV reports, and she was pronounced dead "a short time later" at the CJW Medical center.

The first-grader's mother, Laura Pendleton, told the station that she doesn't understand the school's actions.

"She has an allergy action plan at the school," Pendleton told WTVR TV, saying she authorized the school to give the student Benadryl during a reaction. "They didn't do that."

Pendleton went on to tell the station that at the beginning of the year, she had tried to give the school clinical aid and EpiPen for reactions, but was told to keep it at home. EpiPens inject epinephrine, or adrenaline, currently available only by prescription.

According to a report by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, investigators are waiting for a report by the State Medical Examiner's Office on the cause of Johnson's death, but Chesterfield schools spokesman Shawn Smith told the paper the girl died of a "pre-existing medical condition."

Since severe allergies can develop without previous incidences, Dr. Dan Atkins, head of ambulatory pediatric at National Jewish Health in Denver, told ABC News that stocking EpiPens in schools might be a good idea.

"There are kids who don't know they're food allergic until they get into the food," Atkins told ABC. "In that situation, it would be good to have an EpiPen available."

More than 100 friends and family members gathered for a candlelit vigil in Johnson's honor last week, an additional WTVR report stated. The crowd gathered in front of the girl's home, exchanged gifts, stories and song.