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School and asthma: Questions to ask

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How asthma-friendly is your school? Children spend many hours at school, so it is critical that school professionals understand asthma and asthma management. Children with asthma must have proper support at school to keep their asthma under control and be fully active.

The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) calls for schools to adopt asthma management policies that encourage students to actively participate in the self-management of their condition, while still taking part in school activities.

Use the questions below to find out how well your school assists children with asthma:

  1. Is your school free of tobacco smoke all of the time, including during school-sponsored events?
  2. Does the school maintain good indoor air quality? Does it reduce or eliminate allergens and irritants that can make asthma worse? Are any of the following present: Cockroaches, dust mites, pets with fur or feathers, mold, or strong odors or fumes from such products as pesticides, paint, perfumes, and cleaning chemicals?
  3. Is there a school nurse in your school all day, every day? If not, is a nurse regularly available to the school to help write plans and give guidance for students with asthma about medicines, physical education, and field trips?
  4. Can children take medicines at school as recommended by their doctor and parents? May children carry their own asthma medicines?
  5. Does your school have a written, individualized emergency plan for each child in the event of a severe asthma episode (attack)? Does the plan make it clear what to do? Whom to call? When to call?
  6. Does someone teach school staff about asthma, asthma management plans, and asthma medicines? Does someone teach all students about asthma and how to help a classmate who has it?
  7. Do students have good options for fully and safely participating in physical education class and recess? (For example, do students have access to their medicine before exercise? Can they choose modified or alternative activities when medically necessary?)

If the answer to any question is no, students may be facing obstacles to asthma control. Uncontrolled asthma can hinder a student's attendance, participation, and progress in school. School staff, health professionals, and parents can work together to remove obstacles and to promote students' health and education.

Federal and state laws are there to help children with asthma.

Asthma can be controlled. Expect nothing less.

Created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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