Back to School with Asthma Toolkit for Schools

Asthma is a leading chronic condition that causes students to miss school, which can directly affect their academic success.

The American Lung Association has several helpful tips and resources for schools as they prepare for the 2023-2024 school year.


Respiratory illness is a common cause for asthma symptoms and asthma episodes. Children with asthma may be at higher risk for complications from respiratory viruses such as influenza (flu), pneumonia, pertussis (whooping cough), and COVID-19. Schools can help families get off to a good start by encouraging parents to have children vaccinated prior to the start of the school year. In addition, schools may consider setting up vaccination clinics on campus to make it easier for families to get the necessary immunizations that will protect their overall health.

Top 5 Ways School Staff Can Support an Asthma-friendly School

At the beginning of the school year, make sure your school's Health Inquiry Form includes asthma-related questions. Tracking students with asthma can ensure that students with the greatest need receive proper health services. Here are some tips to get you off to a good start:

  • Send a welcome letter to all parents at the beginning of the school year that communicates the school’s medication policies and procedures and includes any required forms. The letter should include information on the delivery of asthma treatments (i.e. metered-dose inhaler with a valved holding chamber). 
  • Set up an information table at Back to School Night and have a staff person available to answer questions. If your event will be held virtually, provide a FAQ section to address common questions and concerns as well as links to resources for additional information.
  • Have an  Asthma Action Plan on file for each student with asthma. The American Lung Association’s Asthma Action Plan for Home and School includes vaccinations and treatment approaches such as SMART therapy.
  • Ensure immediate access to asthma medication by:
    • Using our Student Readiness Assessment Tool to help you identify a student's readiness to self-carry and administer their quick-relief inhaler. 
    • Establish a stock asthma medication program in your school by adopting a stock bronchodilator policy to provide immediate access to quick-relief asthma medication to students with asthma. 
    • Share the First Aid for Asthma poster with school employees and post it in common areas such as gyms and cafeterias.

Poor indoor air quality can affect the health of students and staff. Many indoor air pollutants can cause asthma symptoms. Help keep your students safe by reducing or eliminating IAQ problems in the classroom by reducing or eliminating asthma triggers (e.g., mold, pet dander, air fresheners, cleaning chemicals), improving ventilation and air filtration, and using asthma-friendly cleaning practices. Visit the Clean Air at School page on to watch a video on ways that indoor air pollutants impact lungs, access practical guidance schools can use to improve air quality, and access IAQ lesson plans.

Learn more about asthma and prevent asthma emergencies with Asthma Basics, a free online course. Schools can play an active role in educating students about asthma by preparing designated school personnel to facilitate an asthma education program such as Open Airways For Schools® and Kickin’ Asthma. Find more information on providing asthma education to school personnel, parents and students in the Asthma Friendly Schools Initiative Toolkit.

Staying active benefits all students but may be daunting for students with asthma or their caregivers. Providing asthma education to Physical Education instructors or coaches, managing physical activity and offering modifications to activity when needed can keep students with asthma in the game.

Schools can provide a healthy school environment by enacting a tobacco-free campus policy that includes e-cigarettes. For students that are caught smoking or vaping on campus, schools can provide an intervention programs (such as INDEPTH) to educate students about the dangers of tobacco and tobacco cessation programs to help young people.

Page last updated: August 7, 2023

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