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School and Asthma

Asthma is one of the main reasons that kids miss school. In the U.S., kids miss more than 13 million schooldays each year because of asthma, according to the CDC.

But well-managed asthma is far less likely to cause a sick day. When kids' asthma is under control, they have far fewer flare-ups.

Asthma Info to Share With Your Child's School

Work with your doctor to create a written or electronic asthma action plan that will tell you what medicines your child needs to take, how they should take them, what triggers to avoid, and more. Share the plan with the school staff.

At the start of each school year, meet with your child's teacher and other school staff to talk about the plan, including:

  • the history of your child's asthma
  • whether your child can manage asthma independently
  • how to reach you and your child's doctor
  • plans for handling treatment during any off-site activities, such as field trips
  • what the school's rules are for kids old enough to handle asthma care (can kids keep an inhaler with them or do they have to go the health office to use it?)
  • who handles asthma care if your child isn't old enough to take care of monitoring and treatment. For example, someone on the school's staff should know how to work an inhaler, if your child uses one. Ideally, a health professional at the school will do this. If not, find out who will.

A supportive school environment that helps kids take charge of their own care is important. Without it, kids might avoid taking their medicines. Encourage the school's staff to help your child settle into a comfortable routine.

How Can We Be Ready for Asthma Flare-Ups at School?

Ideally, medicine that works quickly to relieve symptoms (called quick-relief, rescue, or fast-acting medicine) should be available right away when kids with asthma need it. For students who aren't old enough to take the medicine on their own, this means that the teacher keeps it in the classroom or it's quickly available (not locked up) in the school nurse's office.

When kids are old enough to know how and when to take their medicine, they should carry it at all times, if the school allows. Your doctor can help you decide when your child should be responsible for the medicine.

Talk to school officials about what they allow. Stress the importance of your child getting treatment right away during an asthma flare-up. If they let your child take the medicine on their own, they might ask you to sign an "asthma contract." This might say that you give permission for your child to take medicine and, if needed, who can give it to your child. They should also know when to contact you or call 911 if your child has a severe flare-up.

How Can We Deal With Asthma Triggers at School?

Part of avoiding flare-ups is to avoid triggers like mold, animal dander, and chalk dust. Let the school staff know your child's triggers. You also might:

  • Ask teachers to use "dustless" chalk or dry-erase boards.
  • Ask that any caged pets be kept out of your child's classroom.
  • Ask the staff to avoid using scented cleaning products or soaps.
  • Request the use of air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
  • Make sure that the school is vacuumed and dusted regularly, that it's routinely treated by a pest control company, and that it's completely smoke-free.