Asthma in Schools: The Basics for Parents

Parents may feel concerned about sending their child with asthma to school. Will they be safe? What will my child do if they have symptoms? How will the school respond if my child is having asthma symptoms? One of the best things get prepared is learn more about how the lungs work and learn more about asthma. Communicate early and often with your child’s school about your child’s asthma. Get informed about the school’s asthma medication policies and practices and the steps they take to treat asthma when your child has symptoms.  

The American Lung Association is here to help parents get prepared for this school year. A few important tips to keep in mind are to:

Parents can help children stay in good control of their asthma by visiting with their child’s healthcare provider prior to the start of the school year. During the visit:

  • Review your child’s vaccination record and ask about vaccines to prevent respiratory illnesses including COVID-19, flu, and whooping cough, a common cause of asthma episodes.
  • Discuss your child’s risk of complications from respiratory illnesses from getting COVID-19, flu or pertussis. Also, discuss what steps you should take if you suspect that your child has been exposed or develops symptoms.
  • Review your child's asthma treatment plan. Make sure you and your child can recognize symptoms, when to take medicines, and how much medicine to take in each zone.
  • Assess your child’s readiness to self-carry and self-administer their asthma medicines. Ask your child’s doctor if they are ready to self-carry and use their asthma medicines on their own. 
  • Review your child’s asthma medication inhalation skills with their healthcare provider. If your child uses a nebulizer, discuss the risks of exposure to COVID-19 during use and prevention strategies. Ask if a metered-dose inhaler with a valved-holding chamber (spacer) is a good choice for your child.
  • Request two quick-relief inhalers and two valved-holding chambers – one set to keep with them and one set to keep as back-up medicine at school.
  • If your child has fall allergies, ask their doctor when they should adjust allergy medicines. Getting started early can prevent asthma symptoms.

For a child who is struggling to breathe, the trip from the classroom or playground to the school health room can be dangerously far. Take these precautions to make sure your child has access to their quick-relief inhaler.

  • Use the Student Readiness Assessment Tool with your child’s healthcare provider or school nurse to determine if your child is ready to carry and use a quick-relief inhaler on their own during the school day.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice. At each visit with your child’s healthcare provider, have your child demonstrate the steps they use to take their asthma medicines.
  • For a refresher, visit the Asthma Patient Resources and Videos page to watch our videos demonstrating proper use of asthma medicines, peak flow meters, as well as resources for breathing and managing symptoms.  

Make sure your child’s teachers, school counselors and coaches are prepared for the school year. 

  • Share your child's updated Asthma Action Plan, and back-up medications with your child's full care team.
  • Discuss the school’s asthma management policies and practices with the designated school health personnel to be sure you understand how asthma medicines are stored, accessed, and the steps the school takes if your child has symptoms while at school.  
  • Share the American Lung Association’s Asthma Basics program as a resource. 

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Is Your Child's School Asthma-Friendly?

Accounting for nearly 14 million lost school days each year, asthma is a main illness-related reasons that students miss school. From the classroom to your home, indoor air pollution from dust, fragrances, chemicals from cleaning products, mold or even the classroom hamster can affect how children learn and harm their growing lungs.

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Page last updated: September 9, 2022

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