Strategy 2: Build Asthma Education
School-based asthma education is an important component of a comprehensive asthma management plan and should be supported by the rest of the asthma-friendly school plan. When planning for asthma education, think about each targeted audience and their unique learning needs. Take advantage of preexisting events and opportunities within in the school community. Look for places where asthma education can be incorporated or added.
Focus on school policy adoption in order to establish asthma education as a sustainable element of a school's asthma management plan. When working on policy, it is important to gain buy-in from key groups within the school system. Consider conducting a presentation for school administrators or a parent-teacher organization to drive home the need for asthma education in schools.
- Sample District Policy on Asthma Education
- Michigan State Board of Education Policy on the Management of Asthma in Schools
- Letter to School District about the Need for Asthma Education
- Outline for Presentation to School Board
- Outline for Presentation to PTA/PTO
Educate all school staff
All school staff members should be prepared to handle an asthma or breathing emergency. When thinking about staff to train, consider teachers, physical education instructors, coaches, bus drivers, playground supervisors or anyone that may be responsible for a child with asthma.
Many informative asthma education programs are available to teach school staff and the public about asthma, including the American Lung Association's Asthma Basics online learning course is one example. There also are a number of asthma videos, accompanied by printable documents that teach people how to properly use their asthma medication devices. Other organizations may have more targeted programs that meet the needs of your school, such as the Winning with Asthma program specifically for coaches and PE/PA instructors.
The Lung Association's Asthma Educator Institute® is an in-person, two-day course focused on guideline-based care and recommended for health practitioners and educators, including school nurses. The course prepares participants to sit for the National Asthma Educator Certification Board exam.
Educate all Students
Offer asthma education to all students with and without asthma. Depending on their age and maturity, a child may be responsible for managing their disease. However, all students should understand asthma, know what to do in case a classmate has a breathing emergency, and be involved in school-wide air quality awareness activities.
For students 8 to 11 years old, the Lung Association’s Open Airways For Schools® program may be an appropriate fit. Open Airways For Schools teaches students how to manage their asthma in an interactive group setting through six 40-minute sessions.
The Lung Association also provides education for children ages 5 to 10 through Lungtropolis™, an educational online game that teaches the player asthma self-management skills while they try to save a town from the Mucus Mob. The online game also reinforces messaging learned through the Open Airways For Schools program.
There are numerous programs available from reputable organizations targeted to specific age groups. Find out more under the Additional Resources & Tools section of this toolkit.
Educate Parents of Students with Asthma
Educate parents of students with asthma to better support the disease management of their child. A partnership between the school and parents helps ensure a child with asthma';s academic success and overall wellbeing. There are a number of resources from the Lung Association to help reach parents and caregivers of children with asthma.
- Sample Letter to Parents Announcing Asthma Education (English)
- Sample Letter to Parents Announcing Asthma Education (Spanish)
For parents unable to participate in an in-person asthma program, the Lung Association’s Asthma Basics course is 50-minute online learning module that explains the importance of an asthma action plan, offers information on asthma medications and guidance for handling asthma emergencies.