Asthma is the most common cause of school absences due to a chronic disease. The American Lung Association believes that coordination between schools and the healthcare system is critical to improve asthma health outcomes. Provision of adequate health services may require creative solutions, such as partnerships and establishing links between schools and communities. By encouraging policy makers to create safe school environments you can help those suffering from asthma and other lung diseases. Here are the two policy recommendations set forth in the National Asthma Public Policy Agenda. (Although these policy recommendations focus on schools, children with asthma in all institutional settings, including childcare and residential programs, should receive similar protections.)
- All school systems should adopt and implement a comprehensive plan for the management of asthma that is based on current research and best practices. Schools are responsible for ensuring the health of all students while in school. Creating "asthma-friendly" environments is an essential step in preventing asthma emergencies, improving asthma management and ensuring student learning.
- Identify and track all students with a diagnosis of asthma
- Obtain and ensure the use of an Asthma Action Plan for all students with asthma
- Establish standard emergency protocols
- Educate all school personnel (especially health personnel, physical educators and coaches) about asthma, including how to respond to an emergency.
- Provide a full-time registered nurse in every school, every day, all day
- Ensure students with asthma have immediate access to quick-relief medications
- Ensure that students whose asthma is not well controlled are provided self-management education and case management
- All school systems should adopt and implement an environmental assessment and management plan. School environments can expose both children and staff to indoor and outdoor air pollution, which have harmful effects on health, including asthma. Cleaning up air pollution is important to make sure children are safe in school.
- Develop and implement indoor air quality management plans that address dampness problems, mold contamination, maintenance and repairs, cleaning, integrated pest management and other factors as detailed in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools
- Require schools, grounds, facilities, vehicles and sponsored events to be 100-percent tobacco-free
- Establish a protocol to minimize students’ exposure to outdoor air pollutants on days with unhealthy levels of air pollution
Guide to Asthma Policy for Schools
This resource was created to support the work of community advocates and policy-makers focused on asthma policy in schools. Policy change is one of the most effective ways to establish long-term, sustainable programs and many communities have already made great strides in this arena. This toolkit offers tools, templates and resources that can help move asthma policy forward to protect the health of children and adults living with asthma.