Health and School-based Organizations Outline Approach to Improving Asthma Management in Schools

Groups recommend best practices and proven effective strategies for a comprehensive approach to asthma management in schools

Washington, D.C. (May 15, 2013)

In the United States, more than 7 million children have asthma, and of the school absences caused by chronic conditions, asthma is one of the biggest contributors, causing over 10 million missed school days annually. That is why nine health and school-based organizations have come together and issued a joint statement on improving asthma management in schools, which provides best practices for a healthy school environment that promotes student learning and wellbeing.

In a classroom of thirty, it is likely that up to three students will have asthma. When a child’s asthma is well controlled, he or she performs better academically and stays in class, allowing parents to remain at work which benefits the community as a whole.

“Research has shown that learning is enhanced when children feel safe and have their physical and emotional needs met in a healthy school environment,” said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Lung Association.  “This includes clean air to breathe and access to preventative care and health services.”  

Students and school personnel face a host of issues directly related to asthma, such as potential asthma emergencies, absenteeism, student and teacher productivity, health office visits, access to life-saving emergency medications, and indoor and outdoor air quality.  Schools must be prepared to manage these issues.

In October of 2012, the American Lung Association brought together governmental and non-governmental organizations dedicated to sustaining healthy learning environments for children. As a result of this meeting, a joint statement was drafted that reflects policy recommendations for schools and includes two primary areas of emphasis: (1) supporting comprehensive asthma management for students and (2) addressing the entire school environment.

This joint statement emphasizes the policy strategies outlined in the American Lung Association’s National Asthma Public Policy Agenda. It specifically recommends that all school systems adopt and implement a comprehensive plan for the management of asthma that is based on current research and best practices.  In addition, all school systems should adopt and implement an environmental assessment and management plan that addresses environmental asthma triggers.

The American Lung Association along with the American Association of School Administrators, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Center for Green Schools at USGBC, Healthy Schools Campaign, Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc., National Association of School Nurses, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association Health Information Network, have come together in support of the joint statement on improving asthma management in schools. By taking proactive steps to diminish the impact of asthma in the classroom, schools can reduce the number of asthma-related absences, reduce the number of asthma emergencies, and help safeguard students, faculty, and staff. More importantly, an asthma-friendlier environment creates a healthier place for all people, not just those affected by asthma

The American Lung Association also offers a Guide to Asthma Policy for Housing & Schools to help support the work of community advocates and policy-makers focused on asthma policy in homes and schools.

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About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org.