Asthma at School

Asthma is the leading cause of school absence due to chronic illness.

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An estimated 13.8 million school days are lost per year due to asthma. Sending your child with asthma to school can create concerns for both of you. The best way to keep your child’s asthma controlled and prevent asthma emergencies at school is to plan ahead.

PREPARING TO SEND YOUR CHILD WITH ASTHMA TO SCHOOL

These are important steps to take before and during the school year.

  • Call the school or visit the school/district website to find the necessary form that allows your child to carry asthma medication at school. Save the prescription label for your child’s asthma medication to provide with the form.
  • Work with your child’s health care provider to create or update your child’s asthma action plan and be sure the school nurse has a copy on file.
  • Help your child practice administering his or her asthma medication and make sure your child understands how important it is to keep the medication close by at all times.
  • If possible, provide an extra quick-relief inhaler for the school to keep.
  • Talk with teachers to make sure they understand your child’s triggers and how to avoid them.
  • Make sure your child stays in the routine of taking long-term control medications, if prescribed. Skipping doses can lead to increased symptoms and can lead to missed school time.
  • Remind your child often of general hygiene (washing hands frequently, sneezing into their elbows instead of their hands) to prevent catching upper respiratory infections that can cause asthma flare-ups.
  • Remember to get your child an annual flu vaccination. Research has shown the flu can be more serious for people with asthma. Respiratory viruses, including the flu, can trigger asthma episodes and a worsening of asthma symptoms. It can also lead to pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
  • Ask your school administrators to bring RHA’s Fight Asthma Now© to their students with asthma and Asthma Management to school personnel, parents and other caregivers of children with asthma.

RIGHT TO CARRY LAW FOR ASTHMA MEDICATION

Children in Illinois are allowed to carry and administer their quick-relief asthma inhalers at school without a note from a doctor. Instead, students now only need to submit a note from a parent or guardian and a copy of their prescription, thanks to Public Act 096-1460 which took effect August 2010.

Save your child’s asthma inhaler package from the pharmacy, which should include the prescription label. The school will need to see this packaging and will have a consent form for parents and guardians to sign. Contact your child’s school before classes begin to receive a copy of the necessary paperwork.

YOUR SCHOOL'S ASTHMA EMERGENCY RESPONSE PROTOCOL

Legislation enacted in August 2016 requires each Illinois primary and secondary school to adopt an asthma emergency response protocol. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has developed a model asthma episode emergency response protocol, and each school district, charter school and non-public school was required to adopt it or a similar protocol, including all the components of the ISBE model protocol, by January 1, 2017. The model protocol and other resources are available on the ISBE website.

The same law requires schools to request asthma action plans from parents of students with asthma. The plans must be kept on file in the office of the school nurse or, in the absence of a school nurse, the school administrator.

This law also requires school personnel who work with pupils to complete training on the management of asthma, prevention of asthma symptoms and emergency response in the school setting every two years.

You can bring RHA’s asthma programs to your schools, including Asthma Management, RHA’s one-hour program that educates school personnel, parents and other caregivers of a child with asthma. The Asthma Management for School Staff webinar, a collaboration of RHA, Illinois Department of Public Health and ISBE available on the ISBE website, also meets this requirement.

MORE INFORMATION

Preparing for School with Asthma (Preparándose para la Escuela) includes a printer-friendly PDF. Find more information in the Asthma section of our Library.

Fact sheets located in the Asthma section of our Library feature asthma prevalence, impact and cost data.

For more information about Fight Asthma Now© or Asthma Management, contact Amy O’Rourke, Director of Programs, via email at aorourke@lungchicago.org or by phone at (312) 628-0217.