Your Child's Asthma: School Strategies
If your child has asthma, you may worry about how he or she copes with asthma at school. Research shows that informed, supportive teachers and staff can play a big role in helping students manage their asthma.
The CDC has identified six key strategies that teachers and staff can use to help children with asthma thrive at school. Not every strategy is appropriate or practical for every school situation. In general, however, the more strategies used, the better. You can help by encouraging your child’s school to use these strategies:
Asthma education for all. Ideally, everyone from teachers and principals to cafeteria staff and bus drivers should know the basics about asthma. They should also be taught how to respond to an asthma emergency. Basic information about asthma should be taught in health classes.
School health services. You, your child, and your child’s health care provider should work together to develop an asthma action plan. It should cover issues such as asthma triggers and medications, peak-flow and symptom monitoring. It should also include emergency procedures, when to call the parent, when to call a provider , and when to call 911. Give a written copy of this plan to the school. Make sure your child’s teachers and other relevant staff members have the plan and understand what it means. Be sure appropriate staff members know how to give reliever medications and that they all know where the child’s medication is stored.
Healthy air quality. Tobacco use should be banned on school property. Good pest control practices can help control cockroaches and other allergy-causing pests. During any construction or remodeling of the school, steps should be taken to reduce the amount of dust and debris in the air.
Safe physical activities. All children need exercise, and a child with asthma should be encouraged to take part in physical activities like everyone else. In some cases, the activity may need to be modified to make sure it’s safe and appropriate. Your child should also have ready access to any medications that might be needed before or during exercise.
Cooperation. The school should inform you about any steps being taken to help reduce exposure to triggers. You, in turn, need to keep the school updated about any changes in your child’s asthma action plan.
Community support. The CDC has found that asthma-friendly schools are most effective when they have a strong support from the community. Administrators, teachers and staff need support from the school system and community.
So speak up, offer suggestions, and share resources. Not only will you be helping your child, but you'll also help other children with asthma.
Good asthma control at school can improve your child’s ability to learn and participate in activities. Fewer symptoms also mean fewer restrictions on fun school activities, such as recess, sports, and field trips. Knowing that the school is prepared to handle an asthma emergency means less worry for you. And, teachers and other staff who understand asthma can more effectively help your child and others.
- Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
- MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician